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Depression and other mental health issues can impair an employee’s ability to perform well on the job. Extended periods of depression can lead to disengagement, absenteeism and other losses in productivity.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 6 six adults lives with some form of mental illness; furthermore, 16.2 million U.S. adults live with some form of major depression. In recent years, employers have begun to understand the advantages that come from supporting employee mental and physical health.

Here are three ways to support the mental health of your organization’s employees:

1. Understand the strategic benefits of mental health support

In the same way athletes can only perform as well as their  bodies allow them, knowledge workers can only be as productive as their minds are healthy. Efforts to support the mental health of employees therefore return to the organization as increases in productivity. In fact, a report from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield revealed that employee depression costs U.S. employers $210.5 billion annually, half of which is due to absenteeism.

Understanding the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders can help employers better support their staff. When those employees feel better mentally, they are not only more likely to come to work, but to perform well at their jobs. This point may seem obvious, but the lack of mental health resources in the U.S. indicates that not everyone is assured of the benefits of behavioral and emotional therapy.

2. Build mental health awareness into employee benefit offerings

Considering the prevalence of mental illness in the U.S., there’s a good chance your organization’s employees will utilize mental health benefits. Consider speaking with your company’s insurance provider to learn what kind of mental health resources are available. You may find that you already have resources that have not yet been deployed.

Likewise, giving employees extra PTO for mental health needs shows that your organization cares for their total wellbeing. Often, mental illness shows few outward signs. Giving employees the option to take a day off without manager approval can provide much needed relief when necessary.

3. Address shortcomings in your organizational culture

Culture plays an important role in employee mental health. Toxic behaviors such as latent sexual harassment, stress, and fear of termination can cause workers to feel anxious and depressed. Try looking for ways to promote mental health and reduce toxicity at the office. For example, setting aside a quiet place for workers to relax and de-stress can give individuals a chance to reset and return to work with more purpose.


To summarize, employers can support the mental health of their employees by:

  • Taking the time to understand how mental health impacts the bottom line.
  • Increasing awareness of your company’s mental health benefits.
  • Assessing company culture for toxicity.

For more information on how to increase employee satisfaction at your organization, check out our resource center today.


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