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Better Workplace Mental Health

Blog 93 better mental health at work

In my last Blog we learned that many mental health problems, particularly depression, stress and anxiety, are extremely common in the workplace. We also looked at why companies are developing mental health strategies and delved into the facts, figures and statistics which outlined the costs in the billions of poor employee mental health. We proved that supporting good mental health in our employees is one of the keys to the success of a business.

As employers, we also have legal obligations towards our employees health and safety, which includes their mental health in the workplace.

Why Develop Mental Health Strategies for the Workplace

Developing mental health strategies for the workplace is essential for several reasons:

Employee Well-Being: Prioritizing mental health in the workplace demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of employees. Mental health strategies help create a supportive and inclusive environment where employees feel valued, respected, and cared for. By addressing mental health issues proactively, employers can reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout among employees, leading to improved overall well-being.

Productivity and Performance

Mental health strategies have a direct impact on employee productivity and performance. When employees feel supported and empowered to prioritize their mental health, they are more engaged, motivated, and focused at work. By reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover rates, employers can enhance productivity and achieve better business outcomes.

Talent Attraction and Retention

In today’s competitive job market, employees are increasingly prioritizing workplace well-being when considering job opportunities. Organizations that invest in mental health strategies are more likely to attract top talent and retain employees in the long term. By promoting a positive work culture and providing support for mental health, employers can differentiate themselves as employers of choice.

Legal and Ethical Responsibilities

Employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. This includes addressing mental health concerns and providing resources and support for those in need. Failure to address mental health issues in the workplace can lead to legal liabilities, reputational damage, and negative impacts on employee morale and trust.

Social Responsibility

Beyond legal obligations, developing mental health strategies aligns with broader social responsibility goals. By promoting mental health awareness and destigmatizing mental illness, employers contribute to creating a more inclusive and compassionate society. Mental health strategies demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and ethical business practices, enhancing the organization’s reputation and brand image.

Companies in Denial

Despite the above, almost half of organisations who rank stress in their top five causes of absence are not taking steps to address this.  In a recent survey around 40% of employees said that their company did not provide adequate policies or procedures to address their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
The survey also asked employees if they had ever discussed their mental health anyone at work. More than half stated that they would feel uncomfortable talking to their managers about mental health, some 30% fearing that disclosure could lead to their firing or cost them a promotion. Other reasons for not articulating their concerns were non expectation of change and fear of judgement.

Companies can no longer afford to fail to support employees who are struggling. Transparency up and down the organization is paramount to creating strong culture. Without open communication employee struggles are unrecognized and their lack of productivity and desire to leave will fly under radar – giving the company no opportunity to address it until it is too late.

How to Effect Positive Change as an Employer ?

Some ideas are below:

– Allow all employees access to mental health self-assessment tools and self-management programmes

– Ensure that health insurance includes provision for depression medications and mental health counselling

– Create and distribute materials on mental health including brochures and videos on the signs and symptoms of poor mental health

– Provide mental health training including for managers to help them recognize signs of poor mental health in their team members

– Train and provide mental health first aiders

– Host seminars and workshops on depression and stress management techniques like breathing exercises, self-hypnosis and mindfulness

– Allocate quiet spaces for relaxation activities during breaks

– Give employees the opportunity to participate in discussions on issues in the workplace on mental health

– Provide hybrid flexible home/office working models to promote home/life balance

– Schedule check in meetings with employees

How to Empower my Employees to make Positive Change ?

Some ideas are below:

 Offer incentives to employees to learn skills to improve their mental health

– Appoint wellness champions on topics such as how to manage unacceptable behaviours and attitudes in the workplace as a way to help themselves and others

– Create supportive networking groups so that employees may share their mental health experiences with each other

– Encourage peer support and build and nurture face to face social connections

What Benefits Could I Expect To See ?

Research shows that every dollar spent on identifying and supporting workers with mental health issues yields close to a 500% return in improved productivity. Further benefits include:

Investing in mental health in the workplace can yield numerous benefits for both employers and employees. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the benefits you can expect to see:

Improved Employee Well-Being

Prioritizing mental health in the workplace contributes to the overall well-being of employees. When employees feel supported and valued, they experience reduced stress, anxiety, and burnout, leading to better mental and emotional health. As a result, employees are happier, more engaged, and more satisfied with their work and life.

Increased Productivity and Performance

Mental health initiatives can positively impact employee productivity and performance. When employees are mentally healthy, they are more focused, motivated, and efficient in their work. They are better able to concentrate, problem-solve, and collaborate with colleagues, leading to improved job performance and outcomes.

Reduced Absenteeism and Presenteeism

Addressing mental health concerns can help reduce absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace. Employees who are struggling with mental health issues are more likely to take time off work or come to work while not fully functioning. By providing support and resources for mental health, employers can reduce the impact of absenteeism and presenteeism on productivity and morale.

Enhanced Employee Engagement and Morale

Investing in mental health fosters a positive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported. Employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work when they feel their employer cares about their well-being. High levels of employee engagement contribute to a positive company culture, improved morale, and higher levels of job satisfaction.

Increased Employee Retention

Organizations that prioritize mental health are more likely to retain their top talent. Employees are more likely to stay with employers who provide support for their mental health and well-being. By investing in mental health initiatives, employers can reduce turnover rates, save on recruitment and training costs, and maintain a stable and experienced workforce.

Better Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

A strong focus on mental health can also enhance an organization’s reputation as an employer of choice. Job seekers are increasingly prioritizing workplace well-being when considering job opportunities. Organizations that invest in mental health initiatives are more attractive to top talent, leading to better recruitment outcomes and a competitive edge in the labor market.

Enhanced Organizational Culture

Prioritizing mental health contributes to the development of a positive and supportive organizational culture. Employees feel empowered to speak up about their mental health concerns without fear of stigma or judgment. Open communication, trust, and transparency become hallmarks of the organizational culture, fostering stronger relationships and collaboration among employees.

Cost Saving

While investing in mental health initiatives may require initial resources, it can ultimately result in cost savings for employers. Reduced absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and healthcare costs associated with untreated mental health issues can lead to significant savings over time. Additionally, the positive impacts on productivity, performance, and employee retention can translate into improved financial outcomes for the organization.

Compliance with Legal and Ethical Obligations

Addressing mental health in the workplace aligns with legal and ethical obligations to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. By implementing mental health initiatives, employers fulfill their duty of care responsibilities and mitigate the risk of legal liabilities related to workplace mental health issues.

Social Responsibility and Brand Reputation

Investing in mental health demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility and ethical business practices. Organizations that prioritize mental health are viewed more favorably by customers, investors, and the community at large. A strong reputation for caring about employee well-being enhances brand trust, loyalty, and credibility, leading to long-term success and sustainability.


Poor employee mental health management has a human, business and economic cost based on illness, absence and underperformance. Positive feelings about work are linked with higher productivity, customer and worker loyalty ultimately leading to increased profitability. Therefore creating better workplace mental health through improved education, training and awareness is vital in creating sustainable business.

Investing in mental health in the workplace yields a wide range of benefits, including improved employee well-being, increased productivity and performance, reduced absenteeism and turnover, enhanced organizational culture, cost savings, compliance with legal and ethical obligations, and a positive brand reputation. By prioritizing mental health, employers create healthier, happier, and more successful workplaces for their employees, leading to long-term success and growth.

Safety Consultants include working with employees and protecting employees mental health and part of their HSE services.

Success Stories Reported from Various UK Government Divisions

– 1 – reported a saving of 22 million AED equivalent in the first year of a combined initiative to tackle absence, musculoskeletal disorders and stress

– 2 – fall in stress related absence by 16% and a saving of around ½ million AED per year equivalent after delivering self-help stress management programmes

– 3 – 25% fall in new cases of work related mental ill health and absence after the provision of mental health self-help materials

– 4 – 30% fall in related absence and a return-to-work rate of 75% for people off work for more than six months with mental health problems after a mental health initiative on prevention, protection and intervention

– 5 – drop in days lost due to stress from 3.35 to 2.55 per employee in a single year after the provision of wellbeing strategy, information, training for managers and stress workshops



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