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Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet it is often neglected in the workplace. This can be a major problem, as mental health issues can drastically affect employee morale and organizational productivity.

In this post, we'll discuss the consequences of mental health problems in the workplace, as well as tips on how to deal with them. We'll also provide suggestions for promoting mental health at work and reducing the stigma that is attached to it.

How Does Mental Health Affect Workplace?

One in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illness. [1] It's no secret that mental health problems can be a struggle for those who live with them. One of the most challenging aspects of it can be managing symptoms while participating in everyday activities, including work.

According to a recent study, 60% of adults with a mental illness do not seek treatment for their condition. [2] This lack of treatment can lead to a number of challenges for employees:

  • Cognitive impairment. Individuals with poor mental health are more likely to suffer from problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making. These difficulties can make it hard to perform even simple tasks at work, let alone complex ones. In addition, poor mental health can lead to an increased risk of accidents, errors, and injury.
  • Poor communication and conflict. When someone is struggling with their mental health, they may have difficulty relating to others. This can make it hard to communicate effectively with co-workers, resulting in misunderstandings. Additionally, poor mental health can lead to feelings of anxiety or paranoia, which can cause people to act out in anger or aggression.
  • Absenteeism. Employees who are dealing with mental health issues may have physical symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, which can make it difficult for employees to come to work. In addition, anxious or depressed workers may feel like they don’t belong at work or that their workplace is not supportive. As a result, they may be less likely to show up.
  • Presenteeism. When individuals are struggling with their mental health, they may feel that they cannot take time off work because they cannot afford to miss a day or two of pay. As a result, they come to work even when they are not feeling well. This can lead to a decline in their performance. Additionally, employees who are struggling with mental health issues may be less engaged with their work, which can lead to lower quality output.
  • Decreased productivity. Cognitive impairment, conflicts or strained relationships, struggling to meet deadlines or performance goals, and absence due to mental health-related appointments or hospitalizations are some of the factors that contribute to a decrease in productivity. Depression alone causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year. [3]

What Is Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace?

There are many factors contributing to employees' mental wellness. Poor management practices, not including staff in decisions making, working long hours, bullying, harassment, and team cohesion are some of them. According to the World Health Organization, environments that require quick life-saving decisions, such as the work of first responders, present particularly many challenges. [4]

Mental health is often viewed as a personal issue that should be handled outside of the workplace. However, employee mental health is a significant concern for businesses.

Mental health awareness in the workplace refers to the acknowledgment of employee mental health concerns and the implementation of policies and programs to address them.

By promoting mental health awareness, businesses can create a more supportive environment for employees and help to prevent mental health problems from developing or worsening.

Recognizing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Mental health is often viewed as a personal issue, but it has a significant impact on the workplace. Business leaders and company leaders have a responsibility to create an environment that is conducive to good mental health, and they should also be aware of the signs that an employee may be struggling with such issues.

Extreme changes in mood or behavior

It is not unusual for people to experience some emotional ups and downs, however, when these swings become extreme or begin to interfere with job performance, they may be indicative of a more serious problem.

Workers who are struggling with mental health problems may be more irritable or easily agitated. In severe cases, they may experience delusions or hallucinations.

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Mental health issues can lead to trouble sleeping, which in turn can lead to fatigue and an inability to focus. Additionally, such issues can cause changes in mood and energy levels, making it hard to maintain a consistent level of concentration.

Finally, mental health problems can cause intrusive thoughts or worry, which can also interfere with concentration.

Withdrawing from work or social activities

When people are struggling with their mental health, they may find it difficult to interact with others. As a result, they may start to avoid situations that require them to be around other people.

In some cases, withdrawal can be a way of coping with overwhelming stress or anxiety. By avoiding triggering situations, people can reduce their feelings of distress.

Exhibiting signs of physical distress

Employees who are showing signs of physical symptoms may be experiencing mental health issues.

Physical symptoms may include headaches, chest pain, muscle tension, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues.

How to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace

Although mental health is often viewed as a personal issue, it can have a significant impact on workplace productivity. As a result, addressing mental health in the workplace is essential for promoting a healthy work environment.

Educate staff

Offer training on how to identify risk factors for mental disorders and how to respond to signs of mental health issues in co-workers. One of the ways to do this is to offer an online training course. Such a course could be taken at an employee's own pace and provides a comprehensive overview of mental illness and its symptoms.

Make policies and practices inclusive

All company policies should be inclusive of employees with mental health issues. For example, accommodations may need to be made for employees who need flexible work arrangements or additional time off for doctor’s appointments.

Encourage an open work culture

An open work environment allows employees to discuss their mental health without stigma, fear of retribution, or discrimination. It also includes being open to feedback from employees about how the workplace could be improved.

Promote healthy lifestyle choices

Workplace health promotion often starts with providing employees with information about the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices. In addition, incentives could be offered for staff to make healthy choices, such as discounts on gym memberships or healthy food.

Finally, create a culture of wellness at work by hosting fitness classes or organizing team-building activities that promote mental health.

How to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace

As a company's leadership team sets the overall tone for workplace culture, every employer has the power to make a positive impact on improving mental health in the organization.

Offer stress management education

This should be offered to all employees. One option is to partner with a local wellness center or hospital - they often offer classes or programs that organizations can participate in.

Another option is to bring in a speaker who specializes in stress management. This can be an especially effective option for large groups. Employers can also provide employees with access to online resources, such as articles, videos, or podcasts.

Offer subsidized clinical screenings

Clinical screenings can help identify employees who are at risk for mental health problems and make them aware of available resources.

Screenings are usually done using questionnaires that ask about employee symptoms, family history, and other important information. Clinical screenings can be used for disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more.

Such screenings should be conducted anonymously and on a voluntary basis.

Provide health insurance

Health insurance in organizations should ideally cover mental health services to make treatment more accessible. Many employers still do not provide such health insurance plans due to the misconception that mental health is not a real medical condition.

However, mental health conditions are just as real as any physical illness. Employers who provide comprehensive health insurance send a message that they value the overall wellbeing of their employees.

Introduce a mental health app

Mental health apps can provide users with valuable resources and support, including information on how to manage stress and find helpful coping mechanisms. In addition, many apps offer tracking features that can help users to identify patterns and triggers in user mood and behavior.

Yours App has recently released a mood tracker that allows your employees to monitor their moods, receive feedback and get access to relevant mindfulness, yoga, and psychology-related content.

Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Mental health issues and conditions are a difficult topic to broach, especially in the workplace. However, it is important to remember that mental issues are serious and should be treated with care and compassion. If you suspect that an employee or a coworker is struggling with mental illness, there are a few steps you can take to help.

Approach them

If you notice any changes in a co-worker, it is important to have a conversation with them about how they are doing. This conversation should be conducted in a safe and non-judgmental manner.

If the person appears to be in distress, do your best to provide support and reassurance. If you feel like the situation is beyond your ability to handle, do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or another trusted individual.

Suggest an employee assistance program

Employee assistance programs are offered by some organizations as a resource for employees who may be struggling with mental health issues.

These programs can provide confidential mental health counseling, referrals to community resources, and other support services.

Offer a mental health day

This would give struggling employees an opportunity to take a break from work and focus on taking care of themselves. Mental health days could include activities such as going to see a therapist, getting outside for a walk in nature or simply taking some time for themselves.

Introduce support groups

Mental health support groups can provide a safe space for employees to share their experiences and offer support to one another. In addition, such a group can help to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce the stigma that surrounds these conditions.

Mental Health Activities for Workplace

It is important to take care of your employees' mental health, especially if they are dealing with a lot of stress at work. There are many different positive mental health initiatives employers can suggest in order to help improve their employees' mental state:

  • Exercise. It is a great way to release the built-up tension your employees may be feeling. It can also help to clear their mind and provide them with some much-needed endorphins.
  • Relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can also be extremely helpful in managing stress. Taking some time to focus on one's breath and clear the thoughts can make a world of difference.
  • Journaling. It can be a great way to process thoughts and feelings. Writing down what is bothering your employees can help to lessen their burden and give them a better perspective on the situation.
  • Taking breaks. It can be done throughout the day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Walking or spending time outside can also help reduce stress and improve coping mechanisms.

How to Talk to Employees about Mental Health

Talking about mental health can be difficult, but it is an important conversation to have with your employees. Here are a few simple tips for how to talk to employees about mental health:

  • Be direct and honest. Let your employees know that you are open to talking about mental health and that you are there to support them.
  • Use language that is inclusive and respectful. Avoid stigmatizing language or making assumptions about someone's mental health.
  • Ask questions. Encourage your employees to come to you with any concerns they may have.
  • Check-in regularly. Mental health can fluctuate, so it's important to check in with employees on a regular basis.

How to Reduce Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Poor mental health is a widespread issue that often goes untreated due to the stigma attached to it.

In the workplace, this stigma can manifest in a number of ways, from employees being afraid to speak up about their mental health for fear of being seen as weak or poor performers, to managers not wanting to address the issue for fear of appearing insensitive.

However, there are steps that both employees and employers can take to reduce mental health stigma in the workplace.

First, encourage workers to be open. Teams should be able to discuss mental health freely, without judgment. That may encourage struggling individuals to come forward about their own mental health issues and how they impact their work.

Furthermore, get familiar with the company's mental health policies. This way, you can advise employees about resources that are available to them and how to access them if they face mental health challenges.

Lastly, create an organization-wide culture of openness around mental wellness. This can be done by ensuring that all employees are aware of the company's procedures supporting mental health.


1 National Institute of Mental Health.,mild%20to%20moderate%20to%20severe.

2 Jett, 2019.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

4 World Health Organization.

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