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8 ways employers can support mental health in the workplace

Published: Friday 9th October 2020

Woman suffering mental illness in the workplace

Dealing with mental health in the workplace has never been more important.

1 in 5 Americans dealt with mental health problems before the pandemic. Today, around 40% of Americans are dealing with some kind of mental health problem.

All in all, mental health conditions cost the global economy $1 trn annually in lost productivity. And that’s in a good year. Those numbers are probably much higher now.

Pandemics are stressful, and it’s vital for people to protect their mental health. As an employer, you’re well placed to offer support to people struggling with the grief and stress of the pandemic.

Here are 8 ways you can help your employees with their mental health.

Address the stigma

Despite a growing willingness to discuss mental health in the wider culture, there remains a persistent stigma against talking about mental health issues. Many people are afraid or unwilling to discuss their mental health with their superiors and colleagues out of fear that it will affect their job security or their relationships with their colleagues.

Tell your employees that it’s safe for them to talk about their struggles, and reassure them that their jobs will be safe.

Offer time off

If someone’s mental health is really bad, they’re going to take time off. Lots of employees will take sick days when they’re feeling overly stressed or dealing with mental health issues.

If you’re not taking time to fix a problem, it’s probably not going to get better. Give people the time and space they need to recover and come back better.

Consider mental health first aid training

Man being comforted for mental illness by woman in the workplace

Some of the best resources you have to help your employees improve their mental health are your other employees.

Mental health first aid training is quickly gathering force in the US as a way of combating mental ill health. Most programs teach members of an organization how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness in their colleagues. It provides people with the training and skills they need to provide initial help and support to someone who may be struggling.

Widespread mental health training is having a very positive effect. A recent study showed that employees in organizations with leaders who’d undertaken mental health training were more likely to seek out mental health services.

Organizations like MHFA are helping to pave the way in bringing thousands of instructors into he economy to create a truly helpful and compassionate environment.

Encourage exercise and healthy eating

It’s become a bit of a cliché, but it’s true: nothing helps your mental health like getting exercise and eating well. If someone is well fed with nutritious food and well exercised, they’re less likely to suffer from mental illness, and more likely to be present at work.

There are many things you can do to help people with this, including entering a cycle-to-work scheme, offering free lunches, and putting out healthy snacks for people to munch on at their desks.

Keep signposts to the services people need

It’s important to have materials on hand, including, brochures, pamphlets, and URLs to the services that address mental illness. This way, you can more efficiently help people get the assistance they need.

Find an insurance plan

Directing people to services is one thing. Paying for those services is another.

There are many workplace health insurance plans that offer coverage for mental illness medication and counseling. Consider investing in one to help your employees battle their mental illness.

Stamp out bullying and harassment

Two workers bullying another worker making her mental illness worse

There is a direct correlation between the prevalence of bullying in a workplace and the mental health of its workers. The same thing goes for harassment and discrimination.

There are many ways that employers can get rid of bullying in their workplace. Promoting an inclusive and safe working environment will be one of the best ways to help improve your workers’ mental health.


Looking for more tips on how to improve your workplace. Check out our hirer blogs.




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