• Geraldine Farache

How to Foster Positive Mental Health in the Workplace

Updated: Aug 10



Are you searching for ideas to improve mental health in the workplace?

Or maybe your business wants to help employees avoid stress, depression, and anxiety?


Workplaces can be difficult for people who are struggling to handle stress, unable to take time off, or suffering from mental illness.


Employers can also be out of touch with how to support such challenges.


In this article, we will discuss mental health in the workplace, what it is, and how to provide support for employees.


Table of Contents

3 Effects of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace on Businesses and Their Employees


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), poor mental health in the workplace can have a significant impact on employees.

For example, the CDC cites a study from the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that shows:

  • About 20% of the time, depression interferes with a person being able to complete a physical task at work; and

  • About 35% of the time, depression reduces a person's cognitive ability to perform

For these reasons, employers need to understand the effects of poor mental health and job performance.


#1: Poor Mental Health and Stress Can Impact Job Performance and Productivity


One study found that American businesses lose an estimated $225 billion every year because of poor mental health.


Some of the reasons include::

  • Decreased productivity and job performance

  • Decreased creativity and innovation

  • Increased absenteeism

  • Increased accidents at work

  • Increased employee turnover

  • Decreased team morale

  • Greater difficulty meeting deadlines

To maintain a healthy work environment and optimize job performance, it is critical to address mental health issues and stress on the job.


#2: Poor Mental Health Causes Higher Rates of Disability and Unemployment


There are strong correlations between poor mental health and unemployment.

For example:

  • Poor mental health can lead to higher rates of disability and unemployment

  • Mental health disorders can prevent people from being able to work or maintain employment

#3: Depression and Anxiety Have Economic Repercussions


According to the National Institutes of Health, poor mental health in the U.S. costs the economy an estimated $193 billion per year. This is more than the combined annual costs of heart disease and cancer.


Poor mental health can also lead to the increase of:

  • Unemployment

  • Poverty and homelessness

  • Healthcare costs; and

  • Crime rates

Fostering positive mental health in the workplace is also a way to make a wise investment in your community.


Why the Workplace Is an Optimal Setting to Promote Mental Health Awareness


A few years ago, people dealt with mental health as a private and personal issue.

But in the past two years, more employers have grasped the importance of mental health awareness in the workplace.


As mental health stigma continues to shift, employers are realizing that the workplace is an optimal setting to promote mental health awareness for several reasons, including:

  • There are already structures in place that help people communicate

  • The policies and programs for the company come from one central team

  • Employees can help each other through social support when needed

  • Employers can offer rewards to encourage healthy choices; and

  • Employers can track and measure how well employees' work improves.

In addition, the workplace is a place where we spend about one-third of our lifetime. That’s a considerable amount of time at work.


Employers have a unique opportunity to create an environment where people are more likely to feel comfortable discussing their mental health and seeking help.


How to Promote Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace as Employers


By now, you may understand the importance of making a positive impact on your employees’ mental health, but perhaps you are wondering, “How do you address mental health in the workplace?”


Fortunately, there are various ways to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace.


Continue reading to learn about three ways you can help promote mental health and well-being at work.


Change the Culture


There are ongoing discussions about the need for change in workplace culture to promote mental health and wellness.

But what does that mean?


Employers can help foster this “buy-in” from employees by encouraging positive interactions at work.

Some examples include:

  • Promoting open communication

  • Encouraging employees to be themselves

  • Promoting creativity and innovation; and

  • Encouraging collaboration and teamwork

As a result, people may be more willing to ask for help and trust that their welfare is a priority at work.


Create More Sustainable Ways of Working


Today’s businesses need to find more sustainable ways ensuring the well-being of their employees.


One of the best ways to achieve this is for employers to promote and approve employees taking mini-breaks, also known as micro-breaks.

Mini-breaks are a way of taking time off here and there rather than taking a huge chunk of paid time off at once.

Mini-breaks are great for mental health because employees can enjoy the often much-needed rest and relief. These quick breaks can help create a more sustainable way of working.


It may be beneficial for some employees to design their workweek in a way where they may take off Mondays for a string of weeks.


Let’s look at an example of why creating more sustainable ways of working is ideal for employers and employees by using Ryan as a case study.

Ryan, a hard-working employee, is often stressed at work but rarely takes time off.

But why wouldn’t Ryan choose to take some time off from work?

Ryan feels like:

  • He has too much work to do that prevents him from taking time off

  • If he takes time off, he believes he will fall behind on his work; and

  • It will only cause more stress for him to be away from work

But if he does not take time off, even a short mini-break, the situation can become counterproductive.

At some point, not taking time away from work may force Ryan to do it involuntarily because he is on the verge of physical and mental exhaustion.

Ryan’s story is an example of why taking mini-breaks throughout the year is both important and beneficial.


Taking off just one day a week for several weeks may help with decreasing some stress and anxiety that comes from the demands of a regular workweek.


Sorbet understands the struggle many employees face with mental health and taking time away from the workplace. Which is why we've created a way to remind employees and employers of the importance of positive mental health while encouraging taking time off to recharge.


Foster Deeper Workplace Connections


Research has shown that when employees have strong workplace connections, they are more productive and engaged.


To foster deeper workplace connections, employers can encourage employees to get to know one another beyond working hours.

Managers and leaders in the company can do this by:

  • Hosting social events after work

  • Providing opportunities for employees to collaborate on projects; and

  • Sharing stories about employees’ successes

Employers can also promote communication through messaging platforms, while at work, to help employees connect.


3 Benefits of Mental Health Training in the Workplace


Mental health training in the workplace can provide employees with the tools they need to identify and address mental health issues in themselves and their colleagues.


Are you wondering if the time and energy it takes to do mental health training is worth it?

Below are three benefits of mental health training in the workplace to consider.


#1: Reduced Stigma Regarding Mental Health


Although the negative social stigma regarding mental health has lessened, many people are still reluctant to speak about their mental health issues.

This reluctance may come from a fear of being:

  • Judged

  • Misunderstood

  • Ridiculed; or

  • Seen as weak

Mental health training can help to break down the barriers that exist between employees and help to create a more open and supportive working environment.


#2: Increased Employee Productivity and Performance


A growing body of research suggests that employee productivity and performance can increase through the use of workplace wellness programs.

For example:

  • According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, workplace wellness programs that include health screenings and educational programs can lead to a 9% increase in employee productivity.

  • A study published in the Journal of Health Affairs found that workplace wellness programs can decrease healthcare costs by up to $3.27 per employee per month.

There are benefits for companies to provide mental health training that lead to increased productivity and performance of employees.


#3: Improved Employee Health and Wellness


When health and wellness improve in the workplace, it has many benefits for the employees, such as:

  • Having increased energy and productivity

  • Feeling more engaged in their work; and

  • Experiencing less burnout and stress

There are also benefits for the company, such as a decrease in:

  • The number of sick days taken by employees

  • The number of employees who have to go to the doctor; and

  • Employee health care costs


What Can Employees Do to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace?


Some simple ideas that employees can do to improve mental health in the workplace include:

Sorbet makes prioritizing mental health a little easier by sending employees reminders to use their PTO. Often, being encouraged to take time off can help employees make their mental health and wellbeing a priority.


Sorbet Helps You Boost Mental Health in the Workplace While Saving Costs for Your Company


Depression, burnout, anxiety, and dissatisfaction have plagued the workplace. This has led to many companies wanting to focus on promoting positive mental health.


Are you ready to help boost your company's employees’ mental health, well-being, and morale?


At Sorbet, we make it easy for businesses to make mental health a priority and encouraging them to take time off by:

  • Providing a cashing out system for unused PTO

  • Pre-approving time-off requests; and

  • Curating with the company’s calendar to ensure there are no conflicts in PTO

What we take pride in the most—helping your company achieve improved mental health and well-being by encouraging time off from work.


Contact us today to learn more about how Sorbet can help your business foster an environment of positive mental health in the workplace.