Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

14 Ways to Promote and Support Employee Mental Health in the Workplace

While mental health has always been an important issue, recent events have amplified the need for wellness resources in the workplace. Workers are facing a new range of challenges — from changing work environments to juggling work and child care to processing racial injustice in their communities.

A healthy workplace is one in which employees and their leaders actively work together to create a work environment that promotes and protects the health, safety and well-being of all employees. Creating a workplace that recognizes, promotes and acknowledges the importance of positive mental health in the workplace is one of the most important things an employer can do to improve their organization.

In this guide, you’ll find ways to support your employees’ mental health, including how employers can promote workplace mental health throughout their organizations.

Post a Job

Why is promoting mental health at work important?

Promoting mental health in the workplace and supporting employees who have mental health issues or concerns can have a significant impact on an employee’s job satisfaction and work performance. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workplace wellness programs can help companies identify employees at risk for mental health concerns, connect them to mental health treatment options and provide supports that help reduce symptoms and increase overall wellness.

How to support employee mental health in the workplace

Use the following strategies and tips to promote positive mental health at work.

1. Create clear workplace guidelines for health and safety

Begin creating a healthy workplace environment by establishing, implementing and enforcing clear health and safety policies and practices. Your company’s health and safety guidelines can help develop processes for addressing prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation for distress, burnout, substance abuse and other mental health concerns.

It’s also important to establish rules prohibiting harassment and bullying, a process for investigating complaints and consequences for violations.

2. Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)and talk about it frequently

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are employer-sponsored benefit programs. They’re designed to assist employees in coping with and resolving personal issues that can impact their work performance, physical health or mental and emotional well-being.

These programs can help employees work through a variety of issues that can affect mental health, including work-related stress, anxiety, depression, emotional distress, marital and family relationship concerns, substance abuse, child or elder care issues, financial difficulties and more.

If you already have an EAP in place, now’s a great time to remind your employees to use it. EAPs often go unused because employees don’t understand what they cover or how to access them. Many people don’t even know that these services exist. In fact, 93% of HR professionals say they have EAPs, but nearly half (46%) of employees say their employer doesn’t offer one or is unsure if they do.

Try including details about the program in company-wide emails, monthly newsletters, informational posters, during team meetings or on your company’s intranet.

Read more: What Is an Employee Assistance Program?

3. Reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues or concerns

Normalizing conversations about mental health within the workplace is the best way to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health topics. Companies whose leaders have openly been willing to discuss their own mental health concerns and experiences with their teams have had success in creating work environments where employees feel empowered and safe to share their own experiences.

Ask employees how they’re doing. Encourage employees to name their feelings — both anonymously and in team settings. Here are a few ways to check in with your team:

  • Start a team meeting by asking everyone to share how they’re feeling in one word.
    Conduct surveys to better understand what kind of support employees need.
  • Encourage employees to drop a note that describes their mood when they clock in for a shift. Similar to a suggestion box, this idea can help managers keep track of their team’s emotional state.
  • Have everyone on your team describe one challenge or roadblock they’re facing and one thing they’re excited about in the coming weeks to inspire hope.
  • Simply ask “Are you okay?”

4. Provide supervisors and managers with mental health training

From webinars and workshops to lists of resources and guides on how to cope, investing in mental health education and training can help employees recognize symptoms in themselves and their coworkers.

Including mental health training in your company’s management training program provides your leadership team with the tools, resources, knowledge and skills they need to successfully promote a mentally healthy workforce. Mental health training for management can cover topics, such as:

  • Recognizing and responding to warning signs
  • Creating a work environment that encourages open and honest communication
  • Understanding how to prevent and identify potential workplace-related emotional triggers

Related: How to Create an Effective Employee Training and Development Program

5. Create a positive work environment

Fostering an inclusive, positive work environment can minimize work-related stress and support a mentally healthy workforce. The following suggestions can help companies create positive work environments:

  • Recognize and reward employees for their contributions to the company.
  • Invest in professional training and career development programs for each employee.
  • Offer benefits that promote work-life balance, such as flexible schedules and work-from-home opportunities.
  • Encourage employees to build strong professional relationships with employee engagement and team-building activities.
  • Make taking advantage of paid personal and vacation time the norm to combat employee burnout.
  • Welcome employees to contribute ideas, provide feedback and take part in decision-making processes related to their work.

Read more: 8 Examples of Employee Recognition Programs to Try

6. Rethink job roles

The distribution of duties and responsibilities can also impact workplace mental health. Employees tasked with too much may feel overwhelmed, while those who find their work too monotonous or boring may become restless or feel as if they don’t have value.

Conduct an audit of all current job descriptions. Evaluate how well work is distributed, identifying positions that could benefit from increased or decreased responsibilities. If many roles seem overtaxed, consider creating new positions to take on some excess work.

7. Make mental health services more accessible

Providing an employee assistance program allows your team to seek help for mental health concerns, but that’s only a first step. No mental health concern resolves overnight. Ongoing therapy and medication may be necessary, and visiting therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical and mental health professionals during business hours may be challenging.

To fully support mental health at work, you need to ensure that mental healthcare is accessible. You can do so by:

  • Offering health plans with adequate coverage for mental health services and psychiatric medications
  • Providing paid time off for employees to attend therapy and medicine check appointments
  • Adding an organizational psychologist to your team to provide life coaching for employees
  • Partnering with local mental health providers to offer free counseling on-site
  • Facilitating support groups that allow employees to gather and discuss workplace mental health

8. Provide greater flexibility

Rigidity can have a negative impact on mental health at work by increasing stress on your team. Finding ways to make employment more flexible can lead to big improvements in workplace mental health. Some opportunities to make working for your organization more flexible include:

  • Offering telecommuting work opportunities or hybrid positions that combine two or three days of at-home work with two or three days of in-office work
  • Making internal deadlines for projects more flexible
  • Permitting employees to work away from their desks in communal areas, cafes or even outside
  • Prohibiting after-hours work emails
  • Instituting catch-up days with no meetings
  • Asking employees about their preferred working style and modifying positions as much as possible to suit them

9. Offer virtual therapy and counseling services

Try offering a teletherapy benefit that allows employees to talk with mental health professionals about their stressors. Virtual therapy can encourage more employees to get the care they may have felt uncomfortable reaching out for previously. Employees can receive support from the privacy of their own homes, choose the communication methods that work best for them (e.g., email, video, phone, text message) and schedule appointments at convenient times — including evenings, weekends or lunch breaks.

10. Give free or discounted subscriptions to meditation or mindfulness apps

Focusing on the present through meditation and mindfulness can help improve your employees’ capacity to cope with unknowns and change. In fact, research shows that practicing mindfulness can help people deal with change, and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

Consider providing employees with free or discounted access to meditation or mindfulness apps to help them to live in the moment (rather than worry about what might happen in the future). Through guided meditations and relaxing music and sounds, these apps can help your employees build healthy coping skills. Plus, downloading an app can be less intimidating than scheduling an appointment with a therapist, which can encourage more employees to take steps to improve their mental well-being.

11. Organize online support groups

Working remotely can interfere with your employees’ support system of friends, family and coworkers — and may lead to loneliness and burnout. Here are some ideas to help employees stay connected:

  • Host virtual events. From weekly lunches and midday coffee breaks over video chat to virtual happy hours and team building activities, virtual events can relieve stress, build camaraderie and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Set up online forums. For example, Indeed has Slack channels where employees share their best work from home tips, parenting advice, meals, pets, hobbies and more.
  • Promote employee resource groups (ERGs). Consider setting up more formal workplace support programs, such as an employee resource group (ERG) that focuses on mental health awareness. If your company already has ERGs, encourage employees to join one they identify with to talk about what they’re experiencing with people who are navigating similar issues.

12. Consider remote work stipends

From calming down a screaming toddler or barking dog during a conference call to dealing with isolation to picking up curbside groceries during lunchtime, balancing the daily demands of home life and remote work can be difficult.

Consider offering remote work stipends to help employees adjust to an evolving work situation. This can include office equipment to create a more comfortable work-from-home space (e.g., standing desk, extra monitor, office chair) or other perks that can make life easier, calmer and more productive, such as:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Spotify subscriptions
  • Weekly coffee stipend
  • Light therapy box that mimics outdoor light

13. Offer programs that promote physical health

Studies show that there are mental health benefits to physical exercise. For example, aerobic exercises — including jogging, swimming, cycling and walking — have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.

Try offering mini fitness challenges, team stretching sessions over video call or discounts on exercise apps or online fitness classes.

14. Encourage your team to unplug

With the lines between work and personal life continuing to blur, employees may have a harder time switching off. For many, no commute means working longer hours.

In fact, 46% of US workers who receive paid time off take less time than they are offered with some citing worries of falling behind at work or feeling badly about their co-workers taking on additional work as reasons. Just because employees are working from home or decide not to take vacation, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taking time off. Mental health breaks are important for managing stress, avoiding burnout and maintaining work/life balance.

Give your employees a nudge to take their vacation days — even if they don’t plan on going anywhere.

Read more: How to Encourage Employees to Take a Mental Health Day

Benefits of a mentally healthy workforce

Research suggests that creating a positive work environment and promoting and supporting a mentally healthy workforce results in:

  • Increased productivity rates
  • Increased economic contributions
  • Completion of higher-quality work
  • Lower rates of absenteeism
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Increased employee retention and loyalty
  • Reduced employer and employee healthcare costs
  • Better working relationships between employees and leadership
  • Improved ability to empathize with customers and coworkers
  • Increased inclusiveness, as LGBTQ+, Black and LatinX people are statistically shown to experience mental health symptoms at higher rates

By offering mental health benefits and resources, encouraging your team to take vacation time and talking openly and honestly about mental health in the office, you can show employees that you care, that help is available and that they’re not alone. Doing so can turn grief, anxiety and fear into strength, hope and optimism.

Workplace mental health FAQs

How does mental health affect an employee’s performance?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an employee’s mental health can impact their work performance in the following areas:

  • Quality of work they perform and level of productivity
  • Level of interest and engagement in their work
  • Ability to concentrate and screen out distracting environmental stimuli
  • Ability to communicate effectively with coworkers
  • Physical capability to complete tasks and function normally
  • Ability to accept feedback and adapt to change appropriately

What is a mental health disorder?

A mental health disorder is a diagnosable condition affecting an individual’s mood, thinking or behavior. There is a wide range of mental health disorders, but a few of the most common ones that can impact the workplace include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How can we identify mental health issues or concerns in our workplace?

You can identify mental health issues or concerns in the workplace using the same methods you use to identify other health concerns. Mental health screenings and surveys are common tools employers use to identify employees who may show risk factors for mental health concerns.

Post a Job

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines