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Why mental health in the workplace?

5 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

Over the last few years, the subject of workplace mental health has become an area of great individual and professional concern. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the CDC estimates that 40% of American adults have struggled with their mental health. 71% of adults reported having difficulty managing stress and feeling overwhelmed or ‘burnt-out’. Even when the issues that cause stress are not related to work, their mental health affects their job performance.

Mental health in the workplace should be taken just as seriously as physical health. Employees are truly your most important asset. It’s crucial that organizations take steps to help limit stress, burnout, and other mental health issues.

QUOTE:  Depression has become one of America’s most serious problems, costly businesses over $51 billion in absenteeism and productivity lost.

Why It’s Important to Address Mental Health

Supporting workplace mental health shouldn’t be regarded as ‘optional’ any longer…but a real occupational necessity. Mental health and worker performance go hand-in-hand. As two parts of the same equation, it’s what can make an employee flourish. On the other hand, the adverse effect can happen without proper mental health support or development.

Emotional distress in the workplace is problematic for a number of reasons. Poor mental health at work can result in:

QUOTE: Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to poor mental health.

Risks to Mental Health at Work

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), risks to mental health may involve job content or work schedule, unsafe workplace conditions, or lack of career opportunities and development. Other risks to mental health at work can include:

The Cost of Ignoring Employee Mental Health

$225 billion dollars a year is a staggering number. In fact, this is the economic cost of untreated mental illness and substance abuse. Most of the cost is due to poor work performance, absenteeism, and presenteeism. According to Inc., a struggling employee can cost an employer about $1,600 every year. 20% of the costs is attributed to absenteeism, while approximately 80% is due to presenteeism, or working while sick. Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and poor mental health in general.

Benefits of Good Mental Health at Work

Improved Productivity

When people are physically fit, they tend to be healthier and more productive. The same is true regarding mental health. Improving the mental health of your workers can improve decision-making, thinking, confidence, and working relationships. Also, employees will feel that management is dedicated to their ongoing success on-the-job and in life.

Bottomline…this all translates to increased productivity.

Reduces Costs and Risks

Supporting mental health is also a wise business decision. Investing in the mental health work programs can have a cost savings effect by reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, disability claims, and lost productivity. It also contributes to helping you meet workplace health and safety guidelines to reduce legal exposure.

How to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace

Offering resources is a key aspect of promoting mental health for employees who need support. Also, making clinical services and screening accessible is important for employees experiencing stress or burnout.

The following are a few other strategies employers can use to promote mental well-being at work:


Engagement and open communication with your employees can definitely have a positive effect on their mental well-being. Team leaders, managers, and supervisors should make continued efforts to improve engagement levels in order to form a relationship where workers feel comfortable expressing issues or concerns.

QUOTE: Engagement and open communication with your employees can have a positive effect on their mental well-being.


Mental health is a complex subject. Both managers and employees can benefit from additional training about mental wellness. It’s important that leaders know how to identify mental health problems and how to address concerns with employees. Businesses can also host seminars on stress management and supervisor training on spotting warning signs of work stress and burnout.


Studies by the Mayo Clinic indicate that a perceived lack of control in the workplace can lead to stress and job burnout. By giving workers more control over their schedules, employers help provide a sense of empowerment and enable them to take on job responsibilities more effectively.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An Employee Assistance Program assists employees with personal or work-related problems that may be hurting their job performance or well-being. An EAP is provided to employees at no cost and can assist with issues like relationship challenges, traumatic events, legal problems, wellness matters, and a broad range of other issues.

Also, the CDC advises offering clinical mental health screenings for workers and making sure that counseling is covered by your organization’s health insurance policies.

Create a Relaxation Space

Dedicated quiet spaces give employees the opportunity to unwind, relax, and decompress. It’s up to leaders and managers to establish a work culture that makes it acceptable to take breaks, use these spaces, and feel good about taking appropriate ‘me time’ during the day.

Deven Shuckla
Answer # 2 #
  • Install onsite facilities. Employees who exercise are more productive and less likely to suffer from work burnout.
  • Encourage positive habits.
  • Recommend separating from work.
  • Rethink the working week.
Camille Caffrey
Set Decorator
Answer # 3 #

Without effective support, mental disorders and other mental health conditions can affect a person's confidence and identity at work, capacity to work productively, absences and the ease with which to retain or gain work. Twelve billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety alone.

Anupama Lachman
Answer # 4 #

Mental health describes our state of social, psychological, and emotional well-being and is an integral part of our overall wellness. A vast body of research links mental and physical health, which work together influencing how we think, feel, and act. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) reports that chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes can make a person more likely to have or develop a mental health condition. Conversely, some mental health conditions, like depression, may play a role in increasing a person's risk of physical illness.

Mental health touches every aspect of our lives, especially workplace performance. Key performance indicators such as productivity, creativity, and social engagement can all take a hit if an employee's mental health is suffering. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace can help your workers flourish and reach their full potential, which is what businesses need to thrive and grow.

Almost half of adults experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.2 Of the employees surveyed, 57.9 percent say work had at least a moderate impact on their mental health.2

There are many ways a work environment can contribute towards poor mental health at work. Excessive stress and frustration due to toxic relationships, inexperienced leadership, and unclear communication can build up over time. Layer this with a lack of clear roles and expectations, long or inflexible work schedules, unrealistic demands, and lack of support for employees and it's no surprise a worker can feel unsatisfied, depressed, and exhausted. Other factors can compound the issue, such as:

Don't overlook the ripple effect of mental health at work as employees struggle to balance personal and work demands as well as growing financial pressures.

Make no mistake, the success and longevity of a business rely on the collective, positive mental health of its workers. Positive mental health gives a person resiliency against life's stressors, challenges, and setbacks — obstacles that often go hand-in-hand with a job. Being fortified against the negative emotions and anxiety that accompany difficult times can help a person navigate with agility and remain productive.

While the employers we surveyed said they are aware of the costs of mental health issues to their business, they may not be as aware of the extent of employees' mental health struggles.

One reason may be that employees don't feel comfortable talking about their personal or mental health issues with superiors. More than half of respondents — 54% — said they felt uncomfortable talking to their supervisors about mental health.2 Some even feared that discussing it could lead to being fired or furloughed (30%) or cost them a promotion (29%). If employees did talk about their personal issues, they were most likely to confide in co-workers.2

When a manager or supervisor makes a habit of addressing the importance of mental health in the workplace, everyone benefits. A healthy state of mind can translate to higher levels of creativity along with a greater sense of self-worth and sense of happiness. These are prized attributes for nurturing high performance and strong corporate culture.

Lost productivity, absenteeism, having to recruit and train employees due to high turnover, and even higher health insurance costs are all potentially related to poor employee mental health. Even for small businesses, these costs can add up.

Business leaders say mental health issues can have a negative impact on their operations in the following ways:1

In fact, business leaders report that stress negatively affects their life outside of work, including reduced sleep, worsened work/life balance, and less time with the family.3

Given that mental health can have an impact on finances, productivity, and turnover, supervisors considered mental health when making business decisions. Over 35% of supervisors say they were extremely likely to consider their employees’ mental health when making decisions, with female supervisors being more likely than their male counterparts to do so.2

With the hierarchical structure of most businesses, managers and superiors typically hold sway over their employees, which can leave employees feeling anxious and vulnerable. For instance, an overbearing boss who micromanages every detail can leave workers feeling an absence of trust in their competence and ability to do their roles. Other times, managers may hold unrealistic expectations for deadlines, sales quotas, or deliverables.

Working under an umbrella of constant stress will lead to strained relationships. Moreover, an over-tasked employee is at risk of being unable to meet expectations, including those of customers.

Good decision making requires being able to focus on the issue at hand and weigh all possibilities. An employee burdened with mental health issues may be more likely to be distracted. Inability to focus on a task can increase the likelihood of making errors in the workplace ranging from inputting the wrong data into a computer, struggling to develop creative solutions to challenges, or failing to communicate in a timely fashion. Personal time management, project planning, and general control of the work environment may decline all of which can impact employee performance.

Revenue for any business is the cumulative result of many efforts. Innovation, attention to detail, and excellent service are just a few. Bottom line: strong employee mental health in the workplace fuels strong profits.

When energy is spent on managing difficult relationships rather than producing creative ideas and being productive, a business loses the valuable employee contributions it needs to keep an edge over its competition. Customers can also sense when a worker is unhappy or stressed and may seek to take their business where they will be greeted with a genuine smile and customer service backed with employees who have ownership in the client relationship.

Employees who are satisfied with their job and have strong social networks in the workplace tend to exhibit high loyalty. Conversely, when interactions with colleagues and supervisors are tense and the business's internal structure leaves little room for growth, low morale is likely. Unless action is taken to help an employee feel valued and cared for, they are at risk of leaving the business to search for a more suitable arrangement elsewhere.

In an age when customers value how a business treats its staff and don't hesitate to share their experiences on social media, it's likely that low employee morale will make itself known to consumers, clients, and the public at large. Employees and the work they do give a face and reputation to the business. An employer who does not pay attention to workers' mental health needs risks having its corporate brand associated with callousness and negativity. It's likely that an adverse impact on talent acquisition and sales will ensue.

Supporting mental health in the workplace does not have to be expensive or complicated. There are many strategies that will nurture a culture of mental health and well-being.

Wellness programs and benefits can be major factors for today's job seekers.

Sixty percent of employees surveyed say that employee wellness benefits will factor into the selection of their next job. Eighty percent between the ages of 18-39 will prioritize these benefits in a job search. And sixty-six percent of employees report feeling better about their employer after using a benefit.

Increase productivity with healthier, happier employees and create a more vibrant, supportive workplace. It’s a worthwhile investment for an employer to address the many ways a work environment can impact an employee’s health. A proactive approach can catch small problems before they escalate into something greater. Taking meaningful action to protect employees’ mental health is also a way to show your employees that you care about them as individuals. Doing so is an investment in overall employee performance.

Learn how a mentally healthy workplace is good for business and take steps today to improve the mental health of your employees. Examine the key role of mental health in the workplace here.

Florine Lamberg
Answer # 5 #

Mental health promotion attempts to encourage and increase protective factors and healthy behaviors that can help prevent the onset of a diagnosable mental disorder and reduce risk factors that can lead to the development of a mental disorder.2 It also involves creating living conditions and environments that support mental health and allow people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles or a “a climate that respects and protects basic civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights is fundamental to mental health promotion. Without the security and freedom provided by these rights, it is very difficult to maintain a high level of mental health.”3

Specifically, mental health can be promoted through

Positive youth development is defined by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs as an intentional, pro-social approach that

It provides a lens for promoting the mental health of youth by focusing on protective factors in a young person's environment, and on how these factors could influence one's ability to overcome adversity. Learn more about positive youth development.

Prevention efforts can vary based on the, audience they are addressing, level of intensity they are providing, and the development phase they target. Figure 1 depicts the different types of prevention as defined by the Institute of Medicine. As prevention efforts move from universal prevention interventions to treatment they increase in intensity and become more individualized.

Figure 1: Levels of Intervention5

Note: Click the image to Enlarge.

Interventions may vary not only based on level of intensity, as seen in Figure 1, but also on the development phase of the youth. Figure 2 provides examples of preventive interventions for each of the developmental stages through young adulthood.

Figure 2: Preventive Interventions by Developmental Phase6

Note: Click the image to Enlarge.

NEW! Youth Social Media Use and Mental Health: Tip Sheet for Adults Who Work with Youth (PDF, 2 pages) This resource provides a discussion on the current state of youth, social media, and mental health. It also provides tips on how to support and partner with youth who are active on social media. This tip sheet was informed by youth, researchers, and federal staff who attended the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs’ Social Media and Youth Mental Health meeting at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on July 11, 2019.

Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Youth People: Progress and Possibilities From the National Academy Press, this document explores prevention practices in a variety of settings, including programs for selected at-risk populations (such as children and youth in the child welfare system), school-based interventions, interventions in primary care settings, and community services designed to address a broad array of mental health needs and populations.

Guideposts for Success for Youth with Mental Health Needs The Guideposts for Success are a framework to assist the multiple organizations that need to be involved to meet the needs and improve the transition outcomes of all youth, including youth with disabilities. The guideposts discuss school-based services, career preparation, leadership opportunities, community services, and family involvement supports for youth with mental health needs. These documents were developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability which is supported by funds from the Department of Labor.

Positive Mental Health The Office of Adolescent Health provides a range of information on mental health including a section focused on positive mental health and how to promote resilience. Visit the site to learn more about this topic and other mental health information for adolescents.

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Effectiveness of Wraparound Care Coordination for Children and Adolescents “Wraparound” has been adopted to better meet the mental health and other needs of young people with serious emotional and behavioral needs and their families, and keep them safely in their homes and communities. However, it has long been debated whether Wraparound is actually more effective than traditional services. New research from the University of Washington finds that Wraparound consistently produces more positive outcomes for these youth. Wraparound may also hold potential for reducing disparities in outcomes for youth of color, disparities that have long been found for mental health services.

Ramashrit Mumtaz