Mental Health of the workforce: a look at legal framework in India

Mental Health of the Workforce A Look at the Legal Framework
It is essential for both employers and employees to actively promote mental health awareness and support in the workplace.

Mental health and well-being of the workforce are critical components of a workplace. In recent years, the conversation surrounding mental health has gained significant traction globally.

Although India has not enacted a law to specifically govern the mental health of the workforce, it recognises the health, safety and overall well-being of the workforce in certain industries or establishments.

The Indian legal ecosystem has evolved over time, however, a holistic approach to the mental health and well-being of the workforce is lacking in framing laws or implementing the existing legal requirements.

Legal Framework

A look at the law of the land shows us that the Directive Principles of State Policy (“DPSP”) under the Constitution require the State to secure the health and well-being of employees, men and women, and just and humane conditions of work, maternity relief, etc.

In line with the DPSP, the Central and State governments have enacted laws and framed policies focusing on the overall health and well-being of the workforce.

The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, entitles certain employees to receive extended sickness benefits, including treatment for psychoses, which covers schizophrenia, endogenous depression, manic depressive psychosis and dementia.

People with mental disabilities in India now have equal legal capacity in all aspects of life, including employment, owing to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

It safeguards employees with disabilities and mental diseases in cases affecting promotions, terminations, pay, and other workplace liberties.

Creating a mental-health-friendly workplace requires ensuring that individuals with mental disabilities are suitable for the job and can execute important job activities with or without reasonable accommodation.

Judicial approach to mental health at the workplace

The Supreme Court in another case reinstated a judicial officer who had filed for the appointment under the disability-reserved category.

It held that the reservation would continue until a medical board could certify that he could perform his duties, and his eligibility was unaffected by the fact that the impairment in question may be controlled with medical treatment.

Although the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”), does not directly address mental health, it can contribute to creating a safer and more supportive workplace environment, which can have a positive impact on employees’ mental health.

As recognised by courts, the occurrence of sexual harassment of a woman would depend on the impact on the aggrieved rather than the intent of the respondent.

In a nutshell, India’s legal framework for mental health and well-being at the workplace has come a long way, yet there are still challenges ahead pertaining to creating an inclusive work environment, thereby defining reasonable accommodation for the purpose of employment.

To ensure that existing rules and regulations are effectively implemented, it is vital to raise public awareness, invest in mental healthcare facilities, and encourage collaboration among diverse stakeholders.

To keep up with these efforts, many employers have opened up counselling and comprehensive mental health care services for their workforce.

The Government of India has also launched the National Tele Mental Health Programme of India, Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele MANAS), which is being implemented at state and district levels.

Although there has been no major change in legislation, the implementation of existing requirements under the law is gaining momentum.


There is hope that India’s growing awareness of mental health, counselling, and well-being of the workforce will lead to stronger regulatory frameworks and higher investment in mental healthcare infrastructure.

It is essential for both employers and employees to actively promote mental health awareness and support in the workplace.

Creating a stigma-free environment, implementing proactive policies, and offering resources for mental health care can go a long way in ensuring that the workplace is not only legally compliant but also genuinely supportive of employees’ overall well-being.  

Hence, by combining legal safeguards with a culture of empathy and understanding, workplaces can become safer and more inclusive for the workforce.

Note: (We are on WhatsApp. To get the latest news updates, Join our Channel. Click here)

Co-Author- Krishnan Sreekumar, Associate, King Stubb and Kasiva.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here