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The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace: A Key to Employee Wellbeing

June 23, 2024

June is Men’s Mental Health month. Mental health has become a crucial aspect of overall wellbeing. For employers, recognizing the importance of mental health in the workplace is not just an ethical obligation but a strategic one. Healthy employees are the backbone of a thriving business, and mental wellbeing is integral to their productivity, creativity, and engagement.

At a recent staff meeting we invited Ulliance, our EAP provider, to discuss the importance of mental health. They shared that since COVID the stigma of mental health, especially in men has decreased significantly. It’s important for employers to prioritize mental health with all their employees – both men and women.

Mental Health Directly Impacts Employee Productivity

Stress, anxiety, and depression can significantly impair concentration, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities. By fostering a supportive environment that prioritizes mental health, employers can reduce absenteeism and presenteeism—when employees are physically present but mentally disengaged. This leads to a more efficient and effective workforce, enhancing overall productivity.

A Focus on Mental Health Improves Employee Retention

High turnover rates are costly, both financially and in terms of company culture. When employees feel supported and valued, they are more likely to stay with the company. Providing mental health resources, such as counseling services and stress management programs, demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing, fostering loyalty and reducing turnover. Most EAPs provide these services.

Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace Cultivates a Positive and Inclusive Company Culture

It encourages open conversations about mental health, reducing stigma, and making it easier for employees to seek help when needed. This openness can lead to a more cohesive and supportive work environment, where employees feel safe and valued.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recent surveys show that:

  • 76% of U.S. workers reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition.
  • 84% of respondents said their workplace conditions had contributed to at least one mental health challenge.
  • 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.
What Employers Should Look For

Employers play a crucial role in identifying mental health issues early and providing necessary support. Here are key indicators employers should look for to identify potential mental health issues in the workplace:

  1. Changes in Behavior and Mood: Sudden or noticeable changes in an employee’s behavior or mood can be a sign of mental health issues. This might include increased irritability, mood swings, withdrawal from social interactions, or a decline in enthusiasm for work and activities they previously enjoyed.
  2. Decline in Work Performance: A drop in productivity, missed deadlines, frequent mistakes, or a general decline in the quality of work can indicate that an employee is struggling. Consistent absenteeism or frequent lateness might also be red flags.
  3. Physical Symptoms: Mental health issues often manifest as physical symptoms. Employers should be aware of employees frequently complaining of headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, or unexplained aches and pains. Frequent sick leave can also be a signal of underlying mental health problems.
  4. Increased Anxiety or Stress Levels: Employees exhibiting signs of high stress or anxiety, such as constant worry, nervousness, or panic attacks, might be dealing with mental health issues. Observing employees who appear overwhelmed, excessively worried about work tasks, or who have difficulty coping with pressure is important.
  5. Isolation and Withdrawal: Employees who isolate themselves from colleagues, avoid team activities, or show reluctance to participate in meetings or social events might be experiencing mental health challenges. Withdrawal can indicate feelings of depression or anxiety.
  6. Changes in Communication: Look for changes in how employees communicate. This could include reduced communication, abrupt or uncharacteristically harsh responses, or difficulty articulating thoughts and ideas. An employee who was once an active communicator becoming silent or reserved can be a concern.
  7. Substance Abuse: Noticeable changes in behavior related to substance use, such as increased alcohol consumption or reliance on medication, can be signs of coping mechanisms for underlying mental health issues.

With the help of our partners at Zywave, ASE has made a Mental Health Wellness toolkit available. Please download it here.

There are also some great resources available on the U.S. Health and Human Services website on their Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being page.

The SBAM Wellness Program is designed to be simple and fun, and keep your employees engaged. Our employee wellness solutions benefit not only your staff, but your entire organization.


By Mary E. Corrado, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE.

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