Last week, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of post-match press interviews to protect her mental health. In a statement on Twitter, Osaka explained her reasons for dropping out, by opening up about her battles with depression and anxiety and stating that withdrawing from the tournament was “best for her wellbeing.” As a result, she was issued a fine of $15,000 and was even threatened with expulsion from the French Open. Not only have numerous fellow sporting professionals and well-known faces expressed their support, but Osaka is receiving support from many brands. One brand that has set a powerful precedent is Calm. Calm is an app that aims to help users improve sleep quality, reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, work on self-improvement, and more. On 2 June 2021, Calm announced on its Twitter account that it would be donating the equivalent of Osaka’s $15,000 fine to the charity Laureus Sport, and it would also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons.
Calm has set a precedent by showing that its actions are in line with the company’s ethos of helping people ‘improve health and happiness.’
Actor Will Smith tweeted a message of support for Osaka following the French Open’s decision to fine her, along with fellow tennis star Serena Williams. Lewis Hamilton has also shed light on the pressure athletes face and applauded Osaka for her courage. Sporting giant Nike has come out in favour of Naomi and applauded her courage in speaking up. We are now waking up to the fact that mental health should be treated as seriously as physical health and given the attention it deserves. Furthermore, organisations and companies are now offering greater support to their employees to cope with stress and mental health, as there is recognition that businesses must also invest in wellbeing in the workplace.
Calm was quick to jump in and offer its support to Osaka before other well-known mental health and wellness companies such as Headspace reached out. Some may believe that this was a smart PR move by the company or a savvy marketing strategy. This may be the case, but we also believe that Calm has set a precedent by showing that its actions are in line with the company’s ethos of helping people ‘improve health and happiness.’ Offering to pay fines and standing by Osaka, Calm has earned the respect of many and made the mental health world its own. This leads to questions that a lot of us have been asking; Should technology companies that have made billions be held accountable for social responsibility? What does this mean for the technology industry and its claims on Social Responsibility?