12 powerful ways to support mental health in the workplace

three employees are experiencing different state of mental health in the workplace which can impact their work

With more than three-quarters of U.S. employees reporting that their mental health is negatively affecting their work, isn’t it time that employers prioritize mental health in the workplace?

That staggering statistic is just one of many sobering findings detailed in Mind Share Partners' 2021 Mental Health at Work Report. The pandemic has exacerbated stress and worry in new ways, forcing employers to finally face the importance of mental wellness.

Below, we’ll go over the current state of mental health in the workplace and what you can do to make it better.

Table of contents
The current state of mental health in the workplace: 10 stats that may surprise you
What can I do to support mental health in the workplace? 12 useful ideas
Mental health in the workplace is finally having its moment
Sources

The current state of mental health in the workplace: 10 stats that may surprise you

  • About half of Gen Zs and Millennials say they feel more stressed in 2021 than before the pandemic [1]
  • Half of Gen Zs say that job and career prospects are a top driver of stress for them in 2021 [1]
  • Poor mental health costs UK employers an estimated £33 billion to £42 billion per year in absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover. [2]
  • Proactive interventions such as diagnostic screening tools and training employees to spot poor mental health and intervene have an ROI of up to 6:1. [2]
  • Reactive interventions such as providing access to therapy has an ROI of up to 5:1. [2]
  • Half of employees have quit their job at least partly due to mental health reasons. [3]
  • 77% of employees say their mental health is negatively affecting their work. [3]
  • In 2021, 76% of employees said they'd had at least one mental health condition symptom in the past year-up 29% from 2019. [3]
  • When it comes to mental health, employers and employees are not on the same page. 65% of employers believe that employee mental health is supported well or very well, while only 51% of employees agree. [4]
  • About 70% of employers said they'd start, continue or expand mental health benefits in 2021. [5]

What can I do to support mental health in the workplace? 12 useful ideas

Figuring out how to support mental health in your workplace can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to make sure your employees are psychologically and emotionally well. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Provide access to free therapy

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Many EAPs offer free counseling to help employees struggling with grief, stress, depression, anxiety and family problems. This counseling is usually short-term in nature and typically is limited to a specific number of sessions per issue.

As an employer, consider adding free counseling to your EAP, if it’s not already available, or expanding the mental health services provided by the EAP.

Therapy and wellness apps

Many organizations choose to offer employees free access to therapy apps such as BetterHelp and Talkspace or meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace. This can be a simple, scalable solution for any business needing to provide wellness support to its employees.

You’d be amazed at how helpful an app can be. In a study published in BMC Psychiatry, 70% of the 10,000 participants who used Talkspace online therapy saw a significant improvement in their anxiety and depression reduction.

And in another study published in the Journal of Technology of Behavioral Science, employees who used Talkspace saw a 36% increase in productivity after 12 weeks.

2. Offer wellbeing coaching

Remember, mental health isn’t just about when someone’s in crisis. There are many things you can do to ensure everyone on your team is optimizing their mental health, even if they don’t seem to be struggling at the moment.

Wellbeing coaching is a fantastic tool for helping anyone boost their self-esteem, improve their resilience and just generally feel better about themselves-leading to a much more productive and happy employee.

Struggling with where to start? F4S has a personalized online coaching program, Vital Wellbeing, that helps you:

  • Realize your personal strengths
  • Get better at bouncing back from life challenges
  • Establish and maintain your boundaries
  • Boost life satisfaction

You and your team can get started for free today.

3. Train your managers for mental health awareness

Let’s be clear: Your managers are not mental health professionals and should never attempt to diagnose or treat employees. However, as supervisors who have one-on-one time with your employees and have influence over them, it’s helpful for managers to be able to notice what might be a mental health concern and know how to connect that person with the right resources.

For example, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's Center for Workplace Mental Health hosts a 35-minute training that helps managers:

  • Notice behavioral changes that might point to a mental health concern
  • Talk to the employee
  • Act in a way that links the employee to resources that can help

Training like the above can equip your managers with mental health awareness and empower them to intervene appropriately.

4. Create wellness programs

Physical, financial and social health all contribute to mental health, so don’t underestimate the influence of wellness programs.

For example, as part of its benefits package, Intuit offers the Well-being for Life Program, which entitles employees to up to $1,300 per fiscal year to offset well-being costs.

Asana has Live Well, a program where employees can participate in exercise boot camps, guided breathwork and receive monthly nutrition advice.

Some employers offer programs for stress management and smoking cessation.

5. Start a mental health ERG

It’s common to have ERGs based on racial, ethnic, cultural and gender identity. But the latest helpful trend? Mental health ERGs. Companies from Johnson & Johnson to Netflix are launching these.

When financial services company Affirm started its Mental Wellness ERG, it chose to allow members to be completely anonymous; they can join meetings via phone call so their identity is masked. The Affirm Mental Wellness ERG has provided events such as a Wellness Fair where employees could listen to a wellness expert's presentation and connect with wellness businesses.

6. Measure employee wellbeing

The only way you can know if your mental health efforts are working is to track metrics. What measurement tools can you use to gauge mental health in the workplace? McKinsey & Company suggests the following:

  • Claims or clinical analysis
  • Employee surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Lived experience panels

Nike has developed and used its own Engagement and Wellbeing (EWB) survey for the past five years. It measures engagement levels and experiences of its factory workers and has 21 questions, including five demographic questions.

According to Deloitte, Bell Canada has tracked its progress with employee mental health since 2010 by tracking more than 90 KPIs in its “mental health scorecard.” These KPIs include:

  • Short- and long-term disability claims
  • Usage of mental health benefits
  • Employee engagement  

7. Cultivate an open culture around mental health

The number one reason your employees do not reveal they need mental health support is that they fear judgment, discrimination or losing their job. It should not be that way.

Psychological safety means your team feels they can take risks without being punished. Though we often speak of this concept in terms of the work they do, it also very much applies to how open they can be with you about their health struggles, especially since these can impact their work.

How?

  • Have leadership step up. If you’re a leader on your team, you have a lot of power to influence how the rest of your team feels and the power to set a precedent. One of the biggest hurdles to improving mental health at work is that employees fear they’ll be penalized for talking about it. To help show that that’s not the case, set an example by being open about your own struggles. For example, at a team check-in, you might open up by talking about how you attended a free counseling session available via your organization's EAP because a huge project was causing a lot of anxiety for you. You can also ask if anyone else on your team wants to share their own experience of how they’ve felt handling this stressful project.
  • Check in one-on-one. Outside of regularly scheduled one-on-ones between a manager and their direct reports, it is always good to check in privately with any team member whose mental health seems to be suffering. That's why mental health training is so crucial; it equips you with the tools to spot concerns, start a conversation and connect them with the appropriate resources for help.
  • Remind everyone of the available resources. Sometimes mental health perks get lost in the employee benefit packages, so be sure to remind your team to take advantage of things like free access to mental health apps or free sessions of counseling available via the Employee Assistance Program.

8. Communicate a clear mental health policy

Within your employee handbook, you should include a mental health policy. Documentation of such a policy removes any confusion and allows your team to get the help they need without additional barriers.

In your mental health policy, you might want to include things like a list of mental health resources available to employees, how you will ensure that those seeking help are not retaliated against, how you’ll ensure confidentiality and the point of contact in case an employee has a mental health concern that is impeding their work.

9. Place emphasis one-on-one time between managers and direct reports

Protecting one-on-one time between managers and direct reports is essential to performance. But an added benefit is that it allows employees an opportunity to be open about their mental health struggles and how it’s impacting their work. It takes a lot for someone to be vulnerable about these matters, and by ensuring regular one-on-ones, you give your team the opportunity to build trust with their managers.

10. Provide generous paid time off

Employees are experiencing burnout more than ever, and one way to ameliorate this problem is simple: Give them more paid time off.

More than just providing PTO in your policy, you need to encourage your team to use it. American employees are notorious for letting their vacation days pile up, gathering dust over the years. According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2018, Americans left 768 million vacation days unused.

There’s no use in providing paid time off if you have a work culture that frowns upon vacationing. Encourage your employees to take time off to relax and enjoy themselves. Overworked employees are prone to burn out, hurting their productivity.

11. Establish boundaries for better work-life balance

For many, working from home has been a welcome change, but the “always on” culture of remote work is leading to burnout in new ways. How can you combat this? Establish boundaries. Relieve the pressure by letting employees know that when they are off the clock, they are truly off the clock.

Some employers do this by instituting a 24-hour response time so employees don’t feel the pressure to drop everything and respond right away. Others ban their employees from sending emails after hours (barring an emergency, of course).

However you choose to delineate boundaries at your company, be sure that, as a leader, you set the example by sticking to them yourself.

12. Don’t neglect diversity, equity and inclusion

According to the 2021 Mental Health at Work Report, 54% of employees believe that mental health is a DEI issue. As the report authors write:

“We often frame mental health as the next frontier of the DEI movement. Not only is mental health intrinsically tied to people’s experiences based on their identity, cultural background, and other demographic factors, but mental health can also be considered a DEI subcategory in and of itself.”

Additionally, the study found that employees who felt supported during the racial injustices of 2020 were about two times more likely to feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their colleagues, manager and HR-showing just how crucial DEI is to psychological safety.

Mental health in the workplace is finally having its moment

With so many employers finally prioritizing mental health in the workplace in 2021, we have a lot of reason to be hopeful. Mental health, just like physical health, has real consequences if neglected.

By ensuring that your employees are psychologically and emotionally well, you’ll cultivate a workforce that trusts you, stays loyal to your organization and performs at its very best.

And as you saw above, there is so much that you can do. From Employee Resource Groups to wellbeing coaching to simply talking openly about your struggles, you can support mental health in the workplace and spark real change for the future.

Prioritize mental health in the workplace with personalized online coaching. Get started with our Vital Wellbeing program today!

Sources

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-deloitte-2021-mental-health-millennials-white-paper.pdf

[2] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-uk-mental-health-employers-monitor-deloitte-oct-2017.pdf

[3] https://www.mindsharepartners.org/mentalhealthatworkreport-2021-dl

[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/national-surveys-reveal-disconnect-between-employees-and-employers-around-mental-health-need

[5] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/national-surveys-reveal-disconnect-between-employees-and-employers-around-mental-health-need

Improve your team's mental health and wellbeing with the world's best AI coaching.

Our programs were designed by world-renowned coaches. Sessions only take 5-15 minutes. Get started for free with your personalized program now.

My Coaching Plan:

Our expert coaches have designed hyper-effective programs that will help you improve your mental health, wellbeing, productivity, leadership and more.

Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to let you know which program to start with (and if there are any you should skip)!

Your recommended programs include:

Show more programs
Hide
A group of people representing team building

Team Building

Take your teaming to the next level in this high impact 9-week team coaching program with Coach Marlee. Discover and optimize complementary strengths and unique talents with your team, reach decisions together quickly, enjoy team cohesion, high energy and motivation as a bonded team.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
a person with a magnifying glass and sirkel representing attention to detail

Attention to Detail

Impress yourself and others with your attention to detail! Develop a genuine appreciation, energy and stamina for detailed thinking to execute your vision, measure performance in yourself and others while also accelerating your ability to learn and change.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person wearing a crown representing personal power

Personal Power

In this high impact eight week program Coach Marlee will help you increase your comfort and confidence to be in positions of influence and leadership, navigate organizational politics and also help you develop greater confidence to compete and influence at the top of your industry or field.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person with floating icons around representing multiplying your impact

Multiply Your Impact

Multiply your impact by embracing the experience and genius within others. During this eight week program Coach Marlee will help you to develop a genuine appreciation for experimentation and data and a willingness to empower the opinions, feedback and insights within your team and others in your life.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person thinking of a problem having a gut feeling about the answer

Trust Your Gut Feel

Explore, strengthen and stand by what you believe in at work and in life. Trust in your ‘gut feel’ and point of view is especially helpful for influencing, starting your own business, having your personal needs met and for living an authentic and meaningful life.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person looking on things with a wider persepective representing big picture thinking

Big Picture Thinker

Inspire yourself and others to see the bigger picture! Increase your comfort and use of abstract and strategic thinking to gain a broader perspective in work and life. Big picture thinking is key in communication, leadership, businesses, selling, marketing, and situations where you need to get the gist of things quickly.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a woman sitting down and reflecting representing reflection and patience

Reflection & Patience

Develop ‘step back’ mastery for increased self-awareness and developing mindsets and tools for constant improvement. Reflection and patience is core to consolidating learning, development, strategic thinking, recharging and living an authentic and meaningful life.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person empowered for a fast start

Start Fast

Close the gap between your great ideas and starting them. Energy and drive for starting is key for inventing new things, starting businesses, selling, marketing, socializing or in situations where you need to think on your feet.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person cheering with hands in the air representing EQ increase

Increase EQ

Explore, develop or strengthen your emotional intelligence (EQ). Awareness of your and others’ emotions is at the heart of influencing, ‘reading people’, impactful communication, deep relating and authentic connection at work and in life.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
Person with a dart aiming at a target representing Goal Catching

Goal Catcher

Inspire yourself and others to see and achieve grand visions and goals. A focus on goals is especially helpful for inspirational leaders, starting your own business, impactful communication, or for achieving awesome outcomes at work and in life.

icon of time
5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week

Testimonials

Lara
This is some text inside of a div block.

“Marlee helped me discover skills in myself and others on how to work together as a team!”

Craig
This is some text inside of a div block.

"The resources are awesome, I have referred back to them multiple times"

Show more testimonials
Hide
Chris
This is some text inside of a div block.

"Marlee really helped me to understand how to cue in on body language and tone when speaking with others, in order to connect on a deeper level"

Courtney
This is some text inside of a div block.

"Great experience overall! The 'Attention to detail' coaching program really helped me a lot as it opened up a new way for me to see things. This is very useful in my approach to work."

Shirley
This is some text inside of a div block.

“I learned how to set, move to take action and progress towards happiness”

Rizwan
This is some text inside of a div block.

“This coaching program has really helped me to see the value in goals, and get much better at setting them. It’s had a really positive impact on my career!”

Fred
This is some text inside of a div block.

“What profound and exciting coaching. Brilliant!”

Rhonda
This is some text inside of a div block.

“The Team Building coaching program has helped me gain a deeper understanding of my team and how to best lead, communicate and work with them. As a result, collaboration has become so much easier and we can better utilize our creative differences in our decision making - improving our happiness and performance!“

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare."

Name Surname

Position, Company name

Head that contains a heart with line beating line.

Hack your wellbeing, productivity and goals

. . . with personal (or team) coaching!

Programs are created by expert coaches & delivered by our incredible A.I. Coach Marlee. Sessions only take 5-15 minutes and are 100% personalized to fit your unique traits and goals.
Get started for free
^ Click to chat with your AI coach!
v  CLOSE