The Effects of Mental Health in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know - stressed employee with hands on head

The Effects of Mental Health in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

Haeli Harris
April 26, 2021
October 9, 2022

If you care about turnover rates, company culture, absenteeism, productivity, and the bottom line, you should care about the effects of mental health in the workplace.  Mental health may be the most important workplace problem today.

According to the Psychiatric Times, mental health may cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030.

Depression costs millions of lost workdays in the United States every year... 400 million.

Poor mental health is the culprit of high turnover rates and mass reductions in productivity.

Mental health is a taboo topic for many. But it shouldn't be, because the impact on the bottom line is real.

The good news? The most common mental health struggles—anxiety and depression—are very treatable. As an employer, you are in a great position to help employees get the help they need.  

What are the effects of mental health in the workplace?

Mental health impacts every aspect of a person's life. Mental health impacts virtually everything that happens in the workplace.

The two most common employee mental health struggles are anxiety and depression. So much of their energy is spent on dealing with these internal struggles that it is very hard to show up and work. The snowball effect kicks in—employees are stressed and worrisome, which makes it hard to work, which causes more anxiety... and so on.

There is a stigma around mental health that causes shame and prevents people from speaking up. So, business leaders often don't realize that their people are struggling.

More than half of employees feel uncomfortable talking to their supervisor about mental health. About half do not disclose their mental state at all at work. About 30% fear that discussing mental health with their manager could cause them to be fired or cost them a promotion.

With 1 in 5 people struggling with a mental illness, your company likely has someone that is struggling in silence.

Why do employers need to make mental health a priority?

So—why is mental health important in the workplace? Why should employers address it?  The effects of mental health in the workplace can be behavioral, physical, mental, and emotional.  

Some impacts of poor mental health in the workplace are:

  • tension, headaches, and body aches
  • irritability
  • low mood
  • poor focus and motivation
  • poor decision making
  • brain fog
  • difficulty getting along with coworkers
  • absenteeism
  • fatigue

The result? A decline in employee morale, employee retention, and revenue.

There is a 4:1 ROI on investing in mental health—we've seen it time and time again at Nivati.

Read our article 6 Signs Your Employees are Struggling with Mental Health to gain some more insight into the state of your employees' mental health.

How can I help employee mental health in the workplace?

It all starts with having an open dialogue about mental health.

You can start by talking about your own mental health, such as what you do to take care of yourself. Make it clear to employees that you are there to support them in their mental health journies as well.

The idea is to create a culture that prioritizes mental health and fights the mental health stigma.

You can also provide employees access to tools like meditation, yoga, and counseling.

Partnering with a company like Nivati can help your company improve workplace mental health. Nivati provides resources and mental health education for employees so they can support their own mental wellbeing!

Looking to take a deeper dive into how to support employee mental health? Check out our Mental Fitness Toolkit—you'll learn more on how to start supporting employee mental health in the workplace.

How do I start addressing mental health in the workplace?

It can be very intimidating at first to address mental health. Here are some more steps you can take today to help support employee mental health:

Set the example

Show your employees that you prioritize your own mental health. Turn off your notifications once the workday ends—and encourage your employees to do the same. Take breaks throughout the day. Take vacations.

Talk about your own mental health journey.

Employees will feel more comfortable talking about their own mental health if you are open about it yourself.

Start enforcing some small stress-busting policies

Encourage employees to take breaks and actually use their vacation time. Encourage employees to turn off their notifications during certain times.

The idea is to create the expectation that employees take the necessary time away from work so they can properly take care of themselves.

Meditate or do yoga together

Even just a 10-minute yoga or meditation session can make a huge difference in stress levels.

Follow along to this meditation or this desk chair yoga session together.

Provide some helpful resources

Direct employees to resources they can use when they are feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few:

The Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs

If your company employs people in one of these categories, then you absolutely need to address mental health in the workplace!

Here's what we think are the top 10 most stressful jobs:

  1. Military personnel
  3. Paramedics, police officers, and firefighters
  5. Surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare workers
  7. Corporate executives
  9. Social workers
  11. Teachers
  13. Pilots and air traffic controllers
  15. Retail and hospitality staff
  17. Construction workers
  19. Lawyers

Stressful jobs typically have a combination of some of the following factors:

  • Travel
  • Competitiveness
  • Life/death situations and hazards
  • Physical demands
  • Deadlines
  • High growth potential
  • Working with the public and/or in the public eye

Talking about mental health with employees—and providing them mental health resources like counseling—can help employees manage their stress so they can take care of business!

Support employee mental health with Nivati.

Nivati makes supporting employee mental health super easy—for employers and employees. We are the all-in-one employee wellbeing app!

Nivati's average utilization rate falls around 65%—way more than the EAP average of about 20%.

We provide employees access to counseling, yoga, meditation, fitness classes, financial coaching, and so much more—live and on-demand. Our practitioners are located around the world!

Want to learn more? Call us at 1 (800) 556-2950 or request a demo today!  

Stop stacking benefits. Start being well. Set a Nivati demo


By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take the place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Director of Clinical Operations at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.