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How to Make a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace

By Sunitha Chandy PsyD

Photo by Vitaly Gariev on Unsplash

You don’t need an in-house mental health professional to create a workplace that supports the mental well-being of your staff. Stress in the workplace is a given and it has been a part of work since the dawn of time. However, over the past few years, the toll of chronic stress, destabilizing events, the loss of community, and cultural instability have made workers, leaders, and our systems more susceptible to the negative impacts of stress. Rather than accepting the current situation as the new norm, it is important to take action to support your employees.

Organizations can take simple steps to recognize the increased stress levels of their employees both within and outside the workplace. By doing so, they can increase access to tools and resources that make it easier for employees to perform at their best. These are tools that go beyond simply offering benefits to making it safe and effective to utilize those benefits which is key to demonstrating authentic care for your employees.

Providing a confidential space for people to see their therapist during work hours

If employees don’t have an office with a closed door, consider having a room that employees can reserve for their virtual therapy appointments. You don’t want to offer the conference room with glass walls, but somewhere quiet where someone won’t be seen or heard. Having a white noise machine that employees can turn on to muffle their conversations can also help (most therapists use them in their offices too!). 

It can be helpful to reserve the room in 90-minute timeslots. Therapy sessions are typically held weekly for 50-55 minutes. The 90-minute timeframe allows an employee 15 minutes after their session to jot down notes to remember from the session, time to leave the room, and re-engage back into work. This ensures that the next person using the room doesn’t have to worry about running into the last person who used the room!

It can be helpful to have a clock, a box of tissue, and a notepad available in the room. In case your employee needs these resources. As a therapist who sees clients during the workday, we work hard to make sure our clients have the tools and resources to be able to transition back into work. For more information see How To Fit a Therapy Appointment Into Your Workday.

Support quarterly stress management check-ins

Not everyone in the workplace will feel comfortable seeing a therapist during work hours. Many organizations offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and are surprised at how underutilized they are. Even though there is an increased conversation about mental wellness in the workplace it does not mean that stigma around mental health is gone. Many employees fear that if others know that they are dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression this will impact how their colleagues or managers will treat them. The last thing an employee wants is for their attempts to seek help to impact their performance review or compensation so they err on the side of caution and stay quiet. 

This is incredibly dangerous in the workplace since stress is contagious and can easily spread. We prefer our employees to channel their resources into addressing stress rather than concealing it. This way, they can collaborate effectively and work together to find solutions and workarounds for the current challenges. While we know that stress is a common aspect of work, it's often caused by systemic and environmental issues, affecting not just one individual but the entire team. Concealing stress becomes even more perilous for our goals and priorities, as it leads us to neglect the obstacles and issues that must be overcome to be successful.

To counteract the tendency to hide stress and avoid seeking resources due to stigma, a mental health-friendly organization creates regular spaces for teams to discuss workplace stressors. Simultaneously, it educates and empowers them to collaborate in building skills to support healthy functioning. In our work with companies, we have seen the significant positive impact that regular stress management conversations have on cultivating a culture where employees validate their diverse experiences and collaborate on ways to increase support. The outcomes are increased team trust and connection along with greater readiness to seek out additional resources for support. (A training we offer to help with this - Stress Management In Uncertain Times.)

Assess mental wellbeing

In the past, many employers felt it was too invasive to ask questions related to the safety and well-being of their employees despite research that has shown that an employee's sense of connection, safety, and health directly affects their performance in the workplace. 

There are amazing tools available that can be added to your regular assessment schedule, that are non-invasive and provide a snapshot of the well-being of your organization. 

Start small

You don’t have to implement all these suggestions at once! Just starting with one small thing and building over time can begin to show your teams that you are invested not only in their health and wellbeing but also in creating a strong and healthy workplace culture.

Connect with us today to set up your Simple Start Pathway:

  •  Schedule a short interactive seminar: Stress Management in Uncertain Times

  • Conduct an easy Mood Survey to understand the current mental health temperature of your team

  • Get custom insights and solution reports provided for your team, charting your unique pathway for sustainable support.


Let's talk about the hard stuff.

Artesian Collaborative is a mental health practice based in Chicago. We excel at guiding individuals and teams through tense and difficult topics - and helping them feel good about it.

Our therapists provide mental health counseling for individuals, couples, and families. Our team also leads corporate and community trainings in the areas of Stress Management, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and Relational Leadership.


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