Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

Written by Angelika Keene, Community Development Agent

Employers have increasingly become concerned with their employees’ mental health and well-being, especially since the pandemic. Recent studies conducted after the pandemic reported workers having an increase in mental health symptoms such as feelings of guilt (24%), insomnia (38%), irritability (50%), sadness (53%), and emotional exhaustion (54%). According to the National Council of Wellbeing, all of these symptoms can lead to burnout or depression.  

Burnout is defined as emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by chronic stress. Many factors contribute to an employee’s burnout; one is job dissatisfaction and a lack of feeling supported by their manager or leader.

Managers impact the bottom line and the engagement and well-being levels of the people in the organization. So, what can managers or organizations do to improve mental health? Here are three critical steps organizations can take: creating a culture prioritizing health, training all managers on mental health awareness, and empowering employees.  

  1.  Creating a culture prioritizing mental health. Research has shown that each organization has its own culture, so if an organization wants to prioritize mental health, it must ensure that its behaviors and policies support it. Creating a supportive work culture takes change. To do this, strategies must be in place that involve changing the social, economic, and organizational systems to promote mental health in the Workplace. Some examples of best practices that organizations can take are building a positive culture that supports mental health in the strategic planning and governance of the organization, emphasizing employee well-being in communication materials, providing the employee with resources to manage stress, offering a robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and finally offering employees areas to recharge.
  2. Developing leadership awareness of mental health and signs of depression or burnout. Simply offering an EAP program is not enough to make a change in employee mental health, as research shows that only 4% of employees take advantage of the services for a variety of reasons, such as stigma and fear of punitive action.3 Leadership needs to support the employee by becoming aware of the employee’s experience of emotional duress and intervening with strategies to help employees manage specific stressors. Making mental health promotion part of leadership development training is critical to bridging the gap between employee well-being and available resources.3 According to the National Council of Mental Wellbeing, early warning signs include but are not limited to sleeping disorders, irritability, loss of appetite and interest, reduced level of energy and activity, sad mood, anxiety, and construction problems, which are all potential indicators of depression or burnout along with other mental illness. However, it is essential to note that individuals will differ regarding signs and symptoms.
  3. Empower employees to support their and others’ mental health. All employees will receive training in evidence-based methods such as mental health first aid certification. Mental Health First Aid is similar to CPR in that it teaches participants to recognize mental health symptoms and provides them with the tools to positively respond and support themselves and others on their road to treatment and recovery. According to the National Council of Wellbeing, 60% of participants feel more confident supporting others. Employees supporting other employees could look like talking to a colleague, advocating for mental health resources, reducing stigma, actively listening, and giving information, not advice. 

To learn more about Mental Health First Aider certification, please contact

Register for the upcoming Mental Health First Aid course scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at:


“Organizational Best Practices Supporting Mental Health in the ….N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2024 <>.

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“Does Health Oriented Leadership and Access to On-Demand …. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2024 <>.


Posted: May 21, 2024

Category: Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Burnout, Community, Emotional Health, Health, Health And Wellness, Health Benefits, Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Support, Workplace

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