What is mental health in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace refers to employees’ psychological, emotional, and social well-being within a shared work environment.

Employees with sound mental health have respect for themselves and others, build positive relationships with coworkers, and cope with the daily challenges and responsibilities involved in the workplace. 

Why should HR leaders care about mental health in the workplace?

Unfortunately, mental health issues are highly prevalent among today’s adults, both globally and in the U.S. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 American adults (18.3%) suffer from mental illnesses, and 71% of American adults reported that they suffer from mental health issues, such as stress, headaches, and anxiety.  

Mental health issues have financial repercussions as well. Depression alone costs employers billions each year in lost employee productivity.  

Mental health in the workplace largely contributes towards employee:

  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • Loyalty 
  • Productivity 
  • Satisfaction

What can HR do to improve mental health in the workplace?

While it’s not HR’s responsibility to manage their employees’ personal lifestyle choices, they can improve employee well-being within the workplace. HR leaders can take a holistic approach to mental health in the office.

  • Encourage employee autonomy. Employees who have freedom feel more valued and are more likely to find meaning in their work. Purpose is essential to job satisfaction.   
  • Educate employees and managers on basic health practices. HR leaders can run workshops on problem-solving, prioritizing, goal-setting, and self-care to help employees make decisions that promote their mental health.  
  • Keep the discussion about mental health open. Many employees suffer from stress, anxiety, or other conditions yet feel that they are the only people with these issues. It’s important to remind employees that these are normal feelings and that everyone has to deal with them. HR can even offer mental health days for employees to take a break and rejuvenate. 
  • Create an environment that promotes calm. HR can create a zen room, increase the greenery with a living wall, or carve out chill spots throughout the office for employees to destress
  • Implement workplace wellness programs. Some companies have the budget to include a gym, an amazing perk. If not, there are other effective ways to encourage healthy living, such as subsidizing fitness classes for employees or planning team-building hikes in nature. 
  • Integrate wellness education into the workplace. Yoga classes on lunch breaks, guest speakers to discuss healthy nutrition and exercise habits, or formal meditation training in a peaceful area of the office are some ideas. 
  • Cultivate gratitude in the workplace. Showing gratitude to employees will naturally lead to greater appreciation and happiness among people in a shared work environment. Gratitude is a free way to breed happiness. 

How can promoting mental health in the workplace improve company culture?

A healthy and thriving company culture is rooted in the mental health of its employees. A healthy mentality among individuals and the work community leads to a friendly, supportive, and vibrant work community and company culture.