How to Help an Employee with Mental Health Issues

May 23, 2023 | Mental Health, Workplace & Employment

Operating a business with employees is difficult for a variety of reasons, but one of the largest areas employers need to concern themselves with is employee mental health. Mental health issues are challenging for anyone to deal with, and navigating this within the workplace can be especially hard. As an employer, it is important to provide support to employees experiencing mental health issues to ensure their well-being and to help them continue to be productive members of your team. In this blog post, we will discuss some strategies that employers can use to help employees with mental health issues.

What Mental Health Issues Are Most Common In The Workplace?

Unsurprisingly, some of the most common mental health issues in the workplace include anxiety, depression, and stress. These conditions affect the vast majority of Americans in some capacity, and for those in high-stress positions, the workplace can exacerbate these issues.

Anxiety can manifest in various forms, like social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder. It can cause excessive worry, fear, and avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety. This affects an employee’s ability to perform their job effectively and communicate with colleagues.

Depression also has the power to affect an employee’s productivity and motivation, leading to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy levels. The result of this is often absenteeism, decreased work quality and reduced engagement with colleagues.

Stress is another mental health issue that can arise in the workplace or at home as a result of the workplace. It can be caused by a variety of factors, like excessive workload, tight deadlines, or conflicts with colleagues. Prolonged exposure to stress often leads to burnout, which can cause employees to quit if not addressed.

Why Is Addressing This Important?

Not addressing mental health in the workplace can have severe long-term implications for both employees and organizations. For employees, not addressing mental health issues can lead to a decline in their overall well-being, increased absenteeism, and reduced job satisfaction. It can also contribute to the development of more severe mental health conditions over time, such as chronic anxiety or depression. If left untreated, these conditions can significantly impact an individual’s personal and professional life and may require more intensive treatment.

For organizations, the implications can be equally damaging. Mental health issues in the workplace can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs. Additionally, employees with unaddressed mental health issues may experience difficulty collaborating with colleagues, making decisions, and managing stress, which can negatively impact team dynamics and organizational culture.

Choosing not to address mental health in the workplace can also result in legal and ethical issues for organizations. In some cases, failure to provide accommodations or support for employees with mental health issues may result in claims of discrimination or violations of labor laws. 

Employers have a critical role to play in promoting mental health in the workplace and there are quite a few approaches they can take to accomplish this.

Create A Supportive Workplace Culture

The first step in supporting employees with mental health issues is to create a supportive workplace culture. This means promoting a positive work environment where employees feel safe and valued. Employers can achieve this by communicating regularly with employees, providing regular feedback, recognizing employees for their contributions, and promoting work-life balance. A supportive workplace culture can help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and encourage employees to seek help when needed.

Educate Employees About Mental Health: Education is a crucial component of supporting employees with mental health issues. Employers should educate employees about mental health and mental illness to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Employers can provide educational resources such as brochures, posters, and videos, or bring in mental health professionals to speak with employees about mental health.

Provide Access To Resources: Providing employees with access to mental health resources such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, and mental health hotlines is a great way to support them. These resources can help employees who are experiencing mental health issues access the support they need. Employers can also provide employees with information about their health insurance benefits and how to access mental health services covered by their insurance plan.

Offer Flexible Work Arrangements: Flexible work arrangements can be especially beneficial for employees with mental health issues. Employers can consider offering flexible work schedules, remote work options, or job-sharing arrangements. These special arrangements can help employees to manage their mental health issues by reducing stress and providing them with more control over their work environment.

Check-In With Employees Regularly: Conducting regular check-ins with employees can help employers to identify potential mental health issues before they spiral and become more serious. Employers can make time to check in with employees regularly and ask how they are doing. It is important to listen to employees and take their concerns seriously. Employers can also provide employees with regular feedback on their work performance, which can help to build trust and support employee well-being.

Accommodate Employee Needs: Upper management can also work to accommodate employee needs related to mental health issues, regardless of what is going on within the company. This may include providing employees with time off for medical appointments, adjusting work schedules, or modifying job duties to reduce stress. Leaders within the company should work with employees to find solutions that meet their needs while still allowing them to be productive members of the team.

Encourage Personal Care: Management can encourage employees to practice self-care to manage their mental health issues. This may include promoting physical activity, providing healthy snacks, or offering wellness programs. Employers can also encourage employees to take breaks throughout the workday to reduce stress and recharge.

Foster A Supportive Work Environment: Working to cultivate a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health issues is key for any employer. This may include providing training to managers and supervisors on how to support employees with mental health issues, creating an open-door policy for employees to discuss their concerns, and creating a workplace culture that values mental health.

Respect Employee Privacy: Respecting employee privacy when it comes to mental health issues is another non-negotiable. Leaders should not disclose an employee’s mental health status to others without the employee’s consent. Also, they should provide employees with information about their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how to request accommodations.

Lead By Example: Finally, leading by example when it comes to mental health is a critical approach. Employers should prioritize their own mental health and model positive behaviors for their employees. Taking breaks, practicing self-care, seeking support when needed, and communicating openly about mental health are all excellent examples of this. When employers prioritize their own mental health, they create a culture that values mental health and encourages employees to do the same.

Supporting employees with mental health issues is important for employers. Prioritizing employee mental health can allow employers to create a positive work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and productive. 

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you have an employee who is struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help.  We provide Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient programs that are often a great alternative to inpatient hospitalization.  To learn more about how we can help you help your employees, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at


Keywords: Mental health issues; employee mental health; workplace culture; supportive workplace