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How To Improve Employee Mental Health

how to improve employee mental health
The topic of mental health used to be a major taboo. In the workplace, mental health issues like depression and anxiety were rarely discussed, and when they were, it was often with a lack of understanding. 

While we've come a long way, we still have more work to do to normalise conversations around mental health in the workplace. 

Supporting employees to improve their mental health isn't just a nice thing to do. Employees' mental health can impact their productivity, communication with colleagues, progress, absences and job retention - so there's a strong business case for it too. 

Promoting positive mental health in the workplace can create a healthier, more productive work environment, according to Mental Health Foundation.

With that in mind, let's explore some helpful ways to improve employee mental health.

Common mental health concerns in the workplace

Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health problems facing the workforce. According to Champion Health, 1 in 4 UK workers experiences clinically relevant anxiety symptoms. 

Stress and burnout are also key contributors to poor mental health, with burnout believed to be extremely prevalent amongst UK workers in recent months. Employees that feel overworked or poorly supported are likely to experience stress that impacts their ability to perform well in their roles. 

While neurodiversity and poor mental health are not necessarily interrelated, some neurodivergent employees also report experiencing problems in the workplace that impact their mental health. People with autism and ADHD often report needing to mask their symptoms to get by in the world of work - something that can lead to anxiety and imposter syndrome.

How to spot the signs of poor mental health in employees

If an employee is experiencing a mental health problem, they might exhibit changes in personal appearance, job performance or attendance.

They might also experience a change in personality, such as being uncooperative when they are usually respectful and amiable - or being quiet and withdrawn when they are typically extroverted.
You might also notice that an employee struggling with mental health is showing signs of abusing alcohol or other substances. However, not every person struggling with a mental health issue will use substances to cope.

Creating a supportive work environment

So, what steps can you take to help employees improve their mental health?

Introduce mental health first aiders

It's common to have a trained first aider within your team - this is usually an employee who is not a non-medical professional but who has undertaken training to be able to administer basic first aid. 

Similarly, mental health first aiders are non-medical professional employees trained to respond to early symptoms of mental health problems. They can help by listening, having confidential conversations with employees, explaining the support available to them, and helping them to access that support. 

If you don't already have trained mental health first aiders within your team, it's a good idea to explore this avenue. 

Provide resources for employees

Many larger organisations now provide employees with free counselling through occupational health or an outsourced counselling service. 

Companies can choose the level of coverage employees can access, which usually starts at around four free sessions and can extend to unlimited weekly sessions, depending on the company's resource allocation. Sessions are confidential - counsellors should never discuss information from the sessions with an employer. 

Other companies provide employees with access to mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm.

You can also provide employees with access to online resources that educate them on spotting the signs of mental health concerns for themselves. That way, they can take preventative action or react quickly if they experience symptoms.

Promote a positive workplace culture

It's one thing to tell people that you care about their mental health. It's another thing to show that in practice. 

Something employers can do to promote a healthier workplace culture is to lead by example. They can display positive behaviours, like not responding to emails during the evening and on weekends, and not expecting employees to do so either. 

They can also make accommodations for employees experiencing mental health concerns by temporarily adjusting their working hours, changing their work duties, or encouraging them to take paid leave to prioritise self-care.


Employees and employers can both benefit from a strong mental health provision at work. 

What steps have you taken to support your team's mental health? And what plans do you have to continue that work this year? 

Next steps 

Companies with positive workplace cultures attract the best employees. If you'd like support with bringing the right candidates to your team, learn more about hiring with Eden Scott, or get in touch.