mental health workplace

8 Mental Health Initiatives for a Better Work Culture

Employee mental health is about your bottom line more than it is about their well-being. Studies show a direct link between poor mental health, increased absenteeism, and decreased productivity. This translates into a loss of working hours, increase in errors, and lack of initiatives.

Fair or poor mental health results in an average of 12 days of unplanned absence per year, compared to 2.5 days for other employees, according to a study of over 15,800 participants by global research firm Gallup. 

Similarly, another six-month study by MindShare, a workplace mental-health consultancy, found that 35% of full-time employees report mental health stress “impacts their ability to do their work.” Stress about physical health, job security, and social issues came in second, third, and fourth with 30%, 25%, and 17%, respectively.

One of the core triggers of such statistics tends to be poor management style. People working in companies with bad managers, or overall bad management, are considered to be “actively disengaged,” based on a report by Gallup titled The State of Global Workplace 2024. They are 60% more likely to be stressed than their counterparts who are working under good managers and in healthier work cultures.

Senior executives aren’t immune from burnout or elevated stress, the same study reported that 25% of leaders said they “often or always” feel burned out, while around 66% said they “at least sometimes” feel so.

Why mental health matters in the workplace

Despite its clear effect on businesses, managers and business owners struggle to address mental health in the workplace or offer mental well-being initiatives. What is adding to the complexity of the issue is how discussions of the topic can be viewed as a sign of weakness or an attack on the person’s capabilities. 

Globally, over the past decade, mental well-being has been steadily worsening, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s 2023/2024 Human Development Report. The report which includes data from 159 countries explained that “the number of people expressing stress, sadness, anxiety, anger or worry has been on the rise,” reaching its highest levels since the survey began.

Further reading: Is Email Overload Hurting Your Bottom Line?

Eight mental health initiatives to adopt

The majority of companies are adopting mental health initiatives in the workplace. However, not all initiatives are effective, with some even having an adverse impact. 

The key ingredient remains to be the need to address the core issues causing burnout, elevated stress, and anxiety on an organizational level. 

The below are several initiatives with a proven track record.

1- Raising awareness about mental health 

The first step in addressing mental health in the workplace is to raise awareness of what mental health is, what poor mental health looks like, and how it affects other team members. 

Raising awareness can be in the form of group sessions, online, or in-person sessions. 

2- Mental health training for managers 

Given the statistics, it’s no surprise that C-Suits are among the first to struggle with poor mental health. Their plates are overflowing with never-ending tasks, responsibilities, and fires to put out.

Prioritizing their training about how to handle their well-being, spot issues early on in their team, and learn how to support their team can have a significant effect on overall stress levels.

3- Supporting flexible work 

Everyone strives for work-life balance, but few achieve it. Giving employees the opportunity to work from home a few days a week can reduce the stresses of a daily commute and give them more freedom to spend time with their families and maintain their mental and physical well-being. 

Work-from-home, as well as hybrid work, build trust between employees and their managers, contributing to a healthier work experience.

4- Mental health support 

Mandate mental health support for the entire team. This can come in many forms, from providing access to mental health professionals or physicians, to materials like books and brochures, to offering mental health days.

Providing workplace mental health programs helps team members understand the different aspects of mental health and their impact on their lives and those of others. 

5- Open and continuous dialogue on mental health

Training and assessments can only go so far, but fostering an environment where this topic is a staple in internal communication, team building activity, and even in a periodical appraisal will change the stigma around it.

This in parallel with periodical training and awareness sessions can have a significant impact on the overall workplace culture.

Further reading: 5 Ways to Retain Employees During Mergers and Acquisitions

6- Create a recognition program 

An employee rewards and recognition program acts as a source of motivation for employees. It helps managers acknowledge their team members’ efforts, while also rewarding employees for their hard work. 

A recognition program is about focusing on employees’ positive performance and efforts. This can help employees feel motivated and rewarded, prompting them to continue working for an organization.

7- Offer physical activity programs 

Mental well-being and physical health directly affect each other. People with poor physical health can struggle with negative mental well-being and vice versa.

Offering physical activity programs, such as gym memberships or group activities for team members, can be an opportunity to boost employee engagement and improve mental health in the workplace. 

8- Launch volunteering initiatives

Volunteering can often give a sense of happiness. Research shows volunteering, not just donating, can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. This was seen across multiple age groups. 

Three examples of companies championing workplace mental health

Global businesses tend to actively work on the mental health and overall well-being of their workforce to ensure maximum productivity and profit. Here are three examples of global players achieving tangible results from their initiatives.


With over 155,000 employees around the world, creating mental health initiatives at work can be challenging. 

That’s why Unilever provides a 4-pillar employee wellbeing framework. The pillars are Purposeful, Mental, Emotional, and Physical. 

Unileaver’s internal data showed the framework to have a positive effect. Surveys show a high percentage of employees feel Unilever cares about their wellbeing. Additionally, programs like “Healthier U” have shown improvements in health indicators like obesity and smoking rates. Overall, the framework helps create a work environment where employees feel supported and can thrive.


Since 2020, the year of the pandemic, Pinterest has made strides in providing its teams with employee mental well-being support. 

The visual discovery platform launched an internal community called ‘Pinside Out” with the purpose of helping its team find tips and ideas on elements that promote positive mental health at work. Ideas can include anything from desk organization to recipes.

More importantly, the community acts as a forum for employees to openly talk about their mental health issues. The also host wellness-focused events, regularly inviting in mental health professionals and speakers to tackle various mental well-being topics. 


UK-based Monzo, a banking startup, has a unique approach to workplace mental health. They launched an initiative that addresses both their employees’ and customers’ mental health.

As a personal finance app, Monzo offers customers a ‘Share with Us’ feature where customers can notify Monzo of circumstances affecting their finances. Monzo also has a ‘Vulnerable Customers Team,’ which specializes in carefully handling customers’ mental health and vulnerabilities.

For their team, the UK banking app has an internal process that involves team members attending public and mental health courses as well as a company-wide discount for the meditation app, Headspace. 

Moreover, Monzo has a Slack channel (global chatting tool) dedicated to mental health, where employees can share and find resources, ask for advice, and share experiences. 

It’s a long-term game

The impact of great mental health isn’t limited to the workplace. It extends to employees’ homes and families.  When companies offer mental well-being initiatives and programs, they are supporting their employees wherever they are and on the long term. 

Ultimately, this translates to improved internal culture, higher productivity, better employee retention, and lower turnover. 

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