Fostering mental wellbeing at work: A guide for employers

Mental wellbeing is a vital discussion that has to happen if employers aim to create workplaces that support and encourage employees’ health and wellbeing.


Achieving a healthy workplace is a goal that cannot be attained until both employees and leaders work together to create a space that protects and champions the mental wellbeing of all employees.

Creating a workplace that recognises and promotes the critical role of positive mental health, is one of the most important initiatives that employers can implement to safeguard their organisation and the employees who contribute toward its success.

The Chartered Insititute of Personnel and Development reports that 80% of HR respondents agree that employee wellbeing is on the agendas of senior leaders while only 42% think that senior leaders encourage a focus on mental wellbeing through their behaviour and actions.

Some of these figures leave much to be desired and the impact is being felt by employees as 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health issues at work.

Why don’t people talk about mental health in the workplace?

While awareness of mental health is increasing, people who are struggling with their mental health are still facing discrimination and can find it challenging to seek the help they need.

Because they face the possibility of discrimination many people who experience mental health problems try to keep their feelings hidden to shield themselves from the opinions of others.

Creating a workplace culture that champions people being able to speak about their mental health concerns and conveniently reach out for help is one of the hallmarks of a healthy organisation.

Even in conducive environments, people don’t often reveal their distress freely. This is why it’s important to establish workplaces where people feel safe and comfortable being themselves.

Why is promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace important?

Promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace and supporting employees who are suffering from conditions related to their mental health can have serious implications on work performance and job satisfaction.

Workplace wellness programs and initiatives can help companies identify employees who are at risk of developing mental health problems and connect them with professionals who can help reduce the symptoms and impact.

How to identify an employee who may be having mental health problems?

As an employer, it’s important to keep a close eye on your employees and be vigilant about any pointers that may suggest they might require some assistance or just need someone to listen to their concerns.

Here are a few signs that may indicate that an employee needs your support.

  • Arriving late to work
  • Appears to be tired or stressed
  • Having trouble concentrating, managing multiple tasks, or making decisions
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Being uncharacteristically emotional and frustrated with people
  • Taking extra leave
  • Getting easily upset or overwhelmed
  • Abusing alcohol or taking illegal drugs
  • Becoming aggressive or threatening to others

Promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace

The following steps can help organisations promote positive mental health at work and address any risks that could potentially cause harm to employee wellbeing.

Establish clear workplace guidelines for mental wellbeing

Establishing and implementing clear mental wellbeing policies and practices is a great way to start creating a healthy workplace. Your company’s guidelines and practices can help develop processes for addressing early identification, prevention, support, and rehabilitation for burnout, distress, substance abuse, and any other mental health concerns. 

It’s also important to establish guidelines on workplace harassment, a process where anyone can report incidents of harassment, and consequences for violating the guidelines.

Employee assistance programs and initiatives

Employer-sponsored benefit programs like employee assistance programs are designed to help employees cope with and resolve their personal or work-related issues that can impact their work performance and mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

These initiatives can help employees overcome a number of issues that can harm their mental health, including work-related stress, marital relationships, emotional distress, substance issues, financial difficulties, and more.

Normalise conversations about mental health

Reducing the stigma associated with mental health and related topics is a critical and normalising conversation about mental health that can be a step in the right direction.

Companies whose leaders have openly been willing to share their personal mental health struggles and experiences with their teams have witnessed a positive change where employees feel safe and empowered to share their own experiences.

Final thoughts from Kinhub

Mental wellbeing at work is a sensitive topic and even with all the initiatives that promote mental health in the workplace it’s still considered a topic that carries a great deal of stigma. 

Organisations that take the wellbeing of their employees seriously and offer the necessary support to help address existing and potential issues are growing largely due to mental health becoming a leading point of discussion in boardrooms around the world. 

Offering access to programs and specialists can give employees the support they need to overcome these challenges and create an open conversation on mental wellness.

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