Skip to content


Mental Health at Work Matters

Blog 92 mental health at work

The World Health Organization has stated that “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis like no other in our lifetimes” One aspect of this crisis has been identified as the effect on the populations mental health, including mental health at work – and the serious implications that employers are anticipated to be facing now, and will continue to face for years to come.

Instances of common mental health disorders such as anxiety, stress and depression have all increased rapidly. The Office of National Statistics reports that in general they have seen an increase of more than double the number of adults experiencing depression than before the pandemic – from 10% to 21% of the population. Now carry this statistic alone through to the working environment and at any one time, at least one in five workers will be experiencing depression as a mental health problem.

UK Mental Health and Work Figures

Cases of self-reported stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 9.9 million days of absence, or, 43% of all working days lost due to ill health every year. The economic cost to the country was estimated at £6.6 billion (30 billion AED).  As if these baseline figures weren’t shocking enough, stress-related absence alone is reported to have risen around 40% across all companies over the last 12 months.ior to the pandemic in the UK, approximately 440,000

Mental Health at Work in the UAE

Specific to the UAE, recent research by Cigna showed that 88 percent of UAE employees are stressed out, one of the highest rates in the world, and that furthermore, 50 percent want to quit their jobs. These figures, coupled with the recent significant changes to the working landscape, have led many companies to the realisation that without seismic change they could be facing a tsunami of negative repercussions.

Forward thinking entities are proactively grabbing the opportunity to make impactful changes to the workplace. Frank and honest discussions are opening up around mental health and many companies are pushing the subject to the top of their health and safety agendas. IOSH, the global Institution of Occupational Safety and Health made it’s 2021 slogan “Let’s take care of our Mental Health together”

The Current Landscape

The UAE’s dynamic economy and ambitious development projects have attracted a large expatriate workforce, resulting in a multicultural work environment. While this diversity enriches the workplace, it also brings unique challenges, including cultural differences in attitudes towards mental health. In many Middle Eastern cultures, there is still a stigma associated with mental illness, which can prevent individuals from seeking help or disclosing their struggles at work.


Additionally, the high-pressure nature of many industries in the UAE, such as finance, construction, and hospitality, can contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout among employees. Long working hours, tight deadlines, and demanding expectations can take a toll on mental well-being if not properly managed. With the aim to create awareness of mental health issues, how they affect ourselves, our colleagues and our workforce.

Challenges Faced

Several factors contribute to the challenges of addressing mental health in the UAE workplace:

Stigma: The stigma surrounding mental health issues persists in many communities, leading to fear of discrimination or judgment for those who seek help.

Lack of Awareness: Many employees and employers may not fully understand mental health issues or know how to recognize the signs of distress in themselves or their colleagues.

Work Culture: The emphasis on productivity and performance in the UAE’s work culture may discourage employees from taking breaks or seeking support for mental health concerns, fearing it may be perceived as a sign of weakness or incompetence.

Access to Resources: While mental health services are available in the UAE, access may be limited, particularly for expatriates who may face language barriers or difficulty navigating the healthcare system.

Practical Steps to Take

Despite these challenges, there are several strategies that employers can implement to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace:

Undertake mental health risk assessments: Identify employees or roles which may be at particular risk.

Raise Awareness: Educate employees about mental health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage open discussions about mental well-being. Training programs, workshops, and informational resources can help increase awareness and normalize conversations about mental health.

Create Supportive Policies: Develop and implement policies that prioritize employee well-being, such as flexible working hours, telecommuting options, and mental health days. Provide access to confidential counseling services and resources for employees seeking support.

Foster a Positive Work Environment: Cultivate a supportive and inclusive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to speak up about their mental health concerns. Encourage work-life balance, recognize and reward achievements, and promote teamwork and collaboration.


Provide Training and Resources: Offer training programs for managers and supervisors on how to recognize signs of mental distress, provide support to employees, and refer them to appropriate resources. Provide access to employee assistance programs (EAPs), counseling services, and mental health resources.

Lead by Example: Senior leaders and managers should lead by example by prioritizing their own mental health and well-being. Encourage open communication, role model self-care practices, and demonstrate empathy and support for employees facing mental health challenges.

Creating a healthy workplace

So what is driving workers poor mental health ? Workload pressures, tight deadlines, excess responsibility and lack of managerial support are cited as the main factors causing work-related mental health problems. Previously, it would likely have been presumed that a worker’s mental illness would have developed outside of the workplace. Chances are higher now that it would be recognized that an unhealthy work environment or a workplace incident could have caused or have contributed to the development of the mental illness.

Promoting mental health is an essential part of creating a safe and healthy workplace. Employers and workers both have roles to play in building a safe work environment; one that will not create or worsen mental health problems, and where workers with mental illness are supported.

All employers have a legal responsibility to take the appropriate steps to eliminate or minimize health and safety risks in the workplace; these obligations include the risks to mental health. Some starter suggestions to work towards creating a healthy workplace are:

  • Increase awareness and dialogue around mental health to reduce stigma
  • Promote and facilitate early help-seeking as one of your companies’ key strategies
  • Identify possible practices or incidents within your workplace which may cause or contribute to the mental illness of workers
  • Then work to systematically assess, seek control of, minimize or eliminate those risks
  • Give extra support to Managers who can feel a great deal of pressure and responsibility to support their teams, whilst simultaneously managing their own issues
  • Integrate your mental health strategies into your broader occupational health and safety management processes
In short, mental health should be treated with the same level of gravity within an organization as physical health and safety.

If managed poorly or not managed at all, there is a human, business and economic cost driven by illness, absence, poor productivity, underperformance, high staff attrition rates and loss of talent.

For those concerned that there may be an insurmountable challenge ahead of them, the good news is that the workplace is already an optimal setting to create a culture of health and wellbeing. Communication structures are already in place, programmes and policies should come from one central HSE Team, data will be readily available to measure effects and track progress and employers are in a position to offer incentives and training to reinforce messages and healthy practices.

Making Impactful Change to Employees Mental Health

Making impactful change to employees’ mental health requires a comprehensive and proactive approach from employers. Here are some strategies to promote positive mental health and well-being in the workplace:

Destigmatize Mental Health

One of the most significant barriers to seeking help for mental health issues is the stigma surrounding it. Employers can play a crucial role in breaking down this stigma by fostering a culture of openness and understanding. Encourage open conversations about mental health, provide educational resources, and share personal stories of resilience. By normalizing discussions about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable seeking support when needed.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Promoting work-life balance is essential for protecting employees’ mental health. Encourage employees to take regular breaks, use their vacation days, and establish boundaries between work and personal life. Flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting options or compressed workweeks, can also help employees better manage their responsibilities and reduce

Additionally, consider implementing policies that discourage after-hours work emails or calls to ensure that employees have time to recharge outside of work hours.

Provide Mental Health Resources

Ensure that employees have access to mental health resources and support services. This may include confidential counseling services, employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health hotlines, and online resources. Communicate the availability of these resources regularly and encourage employees to utilize them when needed. Consider offering mental health training for managers and supervisors to equip them with the skills to support employees effectively and refer them to appropriate resources.

Foster a Supportive Work Environment

Create a workplace culture that values and supports employees’ mental health and well-being. Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and mutual respect among colleagues. Recognize and celebrate achievements, and provide opportunities for social connection and camaraderie. Ensure that managers are approachable and supportive, and encourage regular check-ins to discuss workload, stressors, and potential challenges. By fostering a supportive work environment, employees feel valued, connected, and motivated to perform their best.

Promote Stress Management Techniques

Equip employees with tools and techniques to manage stress effectively. Offer workshops or training sessions on stress management, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques. Encourage regular physical activity and provide access to wellness programs or gym memberships. Consider incorporating stress-reducing activities into the workday, such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, or walking meetings. By promoting healthy coping mechanisms, employees can better manage stress and improve their overall well-being.

Lead by Example

Leadership plays a critical role in shaping organizational culture and setting the tone for employee well-being. Lead by example by prioritizing your own mental health and well-being. Demonstrate self-care practices, such as taking breaks, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed. Communicate openly about your own experiences with mental health challenges, and show empathy and understanding towards employees facing similar struggles. By modeling healthy behaviors, leaders can inspire and empower employees to prioritize their own mental health.

Safety Consultants are also well versed in aiding employers to protect employees physical and mental health.

In conclusion, making impactful change to employees’ mental health requires a multifaceted approach that addresses stigma, promotes work-life balance, provides resources and support, fosters a supportive work environment, promotes stress management techniques, and leads by example. By prioritizing mental health in the workplace, employers can create a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.

Corporate OHS – Health and Safety

If you are looking for support with occupational health and safety in the UAE and help from expert Safety Consultants. Corporate OHS is a Health and Safety Consultancy services provider whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance.

We specialize in creating workable, user friendly solutions aligned to your business activities, operations and budget.

This includes protecting employees physical and mental health.

Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;

  • Health and Safety Risk Assessments
  • Hazard identification and control measure implementation
  • Gap Analysis
  • Audits and compliance audits
  • HSE management system development, implementation and review including locally compliant systems such as OSHAD or OSHJ and/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001,
    ISO 9001 and ISO 50001
  • HSE legal compliance reviews and assistance
  • Accident investigations
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Long term or project based HSE outsourcing
  • Flexible monthly support retainers giving access to HSE service without the burden of a permanent cost

To find out more about our services, please visit our website or send an email to, or call 00 971 4 550 7862.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tell us about you and your goals, so we can tailor our services specifically to your needs.
Tell us about your Needs