Why It's Valuable For Employers To Focus on Employee Mental Health

In July Madalyn Parker who worked as a web developer for the company Olark Live Chat sent out a message to coworkers saying she was taking a day off to focus on her mental health, and her hope was to return feeling productive and refreshed as a result. She then received the support of the company CEO Ben Congleton, which ultimately went viral on Twitter.

Congleton went on to write an essay response which was published on Medium, pointing out that as part of the knowledge economy it’s essential that people are able to work at their highest mental level, and sometimes the brain needs a break.

It was a unique scenario that encouraged employers to think about mental health and the importance of not just taking time off when necessary, but also being proactive in helping employees connect with psychiatric treatment and other resources when necessary.

The following outlines some reasons it’s important for employers to consider their employees’ mental health.

The Facts

There seems to be a misconception that somehow employees’ mental health isn’t the business of employers, and in fact, it plays a huge role in every aspect of the workplace from culture to the bottom line.

Consider the following statistics from the CDC:

  • Depression is one of the major causes of loss of productivity as well as disability and absenteeism and work

  • It’s estimated that 9.5% of adults in the U.S. will suffer from a depressive illness each year

  • Around 80% of people with depression say that it impairs their life in some functional area, and for 27% it’s reported that it’s a serious level of impairment

  • In a 3-month period, an employee with depression will miss on average 4.8 work days and will have 11.5 days of missed productivity
Employers who are looking to be leaner and more productive than ever before simply can’t afford these losses, but some things can be done to help employees and help the business at the same time.

Employers who focus on mental health care and make it a priority are more likely to see financial benefits as a result.

Look At Mental Health Holistically

It’s important for employers to start looking at mental health as part of overall physical health when it comes to their employees. Mental health is just as important a component of overall wellness as physical health, yet it’s something largely ignored by employers.

Removing the Stigma

Finally, you may understand how the mental health of employees affects an entire organization, but you might not know what to do. The best first steps along with viewing mental health as something that’s an integral part of overall employee wellness is to work first and foremost on removing the stigma.
You want to make sure that your employees feel comfortable participating in mental wellness programs and services available through work or in general.

People feel too afraid to try and get help and employees often think that if they share their mental health struggles, they’ll be viewed differently or passed over for opportunities, so top company leaders should be encouraging the lines of communication to open on these topics.


Carmelo is a marketing writer and blogger helping small and medium size businesses craft winning content strategies. She's always scouting the web for new social media strategies and is slightly addicted to apps. When not tapping the keyboard, you are likely to find her in the park playing with her uncontrollably friendly Irish setter or trying out new vegan recipes.

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