Remember ‘Green-Washing’? These Days ‘Well-Washing’ Might Arise for Mental Health in Workplaces Issue


Thursday, October 10th was commemorated as the World Mental Health Day (read more HERE). Glad that many in my networks were actually aware on this as shown by their posts; including what activities they did in their offices to commemorate that day.

“Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide” – that’s the title of campaign page from WHO to commemorate October 10th . To my opinion, it’s fairly a serious issue; especially in workplaces; burnout, stress, and unhealthy relationship might cause mental health problems from employee.

Interestingly, couple of days before the World Mental Health Day, this tweet came to my timeline:

It could be sensed that the tweeting person might have an experience (or at least a thought) to deal with someone who claimed to have mental health issue (which possibly seemed to use that reasoning as excuses to things he/she couldn’t do well). I am no totally agree with the content of the tweet, but I am fine with his expression toward the issue. It could happen actually, that some people pretend to have something related to their mental health, for an excuse to something else (which am not sure if pretending to avoid like this is actually a mental illness).

Anyhow, lots of response addressed to this tweet, one of the interesting replies is as follow:

Well, I don’t want to discuss these tweets too long here, but these tweets actually brought me to an observation: as some might use this as an excuse (provided by the tweeting person), it could happen that  mental health issue in workplaces is possibly significantly arisen – which leads to more companies might use this as part of their persona to furnish their employer brand.

On this what so called never-ending talent war era, companies need to update their ‘personality’ to attract talents or even concerned shareholders/stakeholders. They will continuously look for sexy issues to be tapped into their activities or policies. Just like how many companies did with the environmental issue few years ago, as remembered as green-washing.

OK, for you who might forget, here I cite from the Guardian Article in 2016: “the term “greenwashing” was coined in the 1980s to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims.” – Or more simple words from Wikipedia: “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

The latter sentence is what I related to ‘well-washing’, as Pilita Clarks wrote its definition with “employers who cloak themselves in a veneer of caring for their workers while hurting them with bad management practices.”

In short, it’s indeed good and somehow progressive, to find companies provide mental health or well-being related activities or policies (e.g. meditation, retreat program, flexi-works, counseling, etc.) Yet, some companies use this without really fixing up the root problem that heavily cause any mental health issues in their workplaces (e.g. toxic / bad management).

Nevertheless, I do still appreciate those leaders and HR practitioners who are started to pay attention to mental health / well-being issue in workplace by having activities. Next, a comprehensive system of work and good management practices shall continuously be improved to avoid increasing mental health problems.

To note, I used ‘avoid increasing mental health problems’ because people are simply unique; sometimes we’ve tried so hard to do this and that, but people will still stress out or having mental health problems because of various factors we couldn’t control as management team. So, just do what we can do for now. It helps.


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