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Help end stigma and prioritize mental health in the workplace

Our world has experienced extraordinary changes since 2020, and the workplace is no exception. Collective trauma from the pandemic, a growing racial justice movement, climate disruptions, political conflict, workplace stress and burnout have put a spotlight on the connection between work and mental well-being.

As the world continues to change, prioritizing mental health and ending the stigma in the workplace must change, too. If there’s a silver lining, one might say it’s that mental health has now become a part of the conversation and is becoming more commonly discussed, even at work.

Talking about mental health at work is becoming more common

According to The State of Workforce Mental Health in 2023,1 employees who said mental health is discussed in their workplace nearly doubled from 2021 to 2023, and almost half (47 percent) say their manager helps them in prioritizing their mental health.1

Progress is being made, but there’s still work to be done.

How comfortable are people with talking about mental illness?

According to the 2021 Make It Ok IMPACT survey5:

  • One in four respondents indicated they were still uncomfortable talking with someone about mental illnesses. 

  • Nearly one in three said they wouldn’t tell their friends that they live with a mental illness.

Here’s what else we know:

  • The State of Workforce Mental Health1 report indicated employees still fear that their job status, reputation or relationships might be threatened by sharing their mental health struggles at work.

  • Four in five employees report feeling emotionally drained from their work — an early sign of burnout.4

  • People of color are 49% more reluctant to seek care for mental health, and men are 50% more reluctant than women according to the 2021 Make It OK IMPACT Survey.5

  • Worldwide, depression and anxiety have a cost of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.6

Prioritizing mental health in the workplace matters

Employees are seeking workplaces that support their mental health and well-being; create an environment and culture where they feel welcomed, included, valued and safe to talk openly about mental health; and provide quality mental health benefits. These benefits are viewed as a right, not just a perk.

How employers can help end mental health stigma in the workplace and help employees thrive

Launch a Make It OK campaign in your workplace.: Raise awareness, stop the stigma and start the conversation. Launch a campaign

Foster change at the organizational level. Create the cultures and practices that prioritize mental health, normalize talking about it, reduce burnout and promote well-being.

Talk about it. Make the workplace a safe space for open and caring conversations around mental health. Help end stigma

Encourage leaders to share their own lived experience stories. Normalize that you can be a leader or whatever you want to be and have a mental illness. Let employees know they’re not alone. Share your lived experience

Invest in developing managers who are supportive.  Employees who feel supported perform better.

Provide employees with access to mental health care benefits and resources. Ensure employees are aware of their benefits. Consider culture-based practices as well.

Create a culturally aware workplaceCreate a safe and inclusive work environment where all employees seek to understand the unique lived experiences, cultural beliefs, values, languages and practices of their coworkers so all feel welcomed, valued, included and free to ask for the support and care they need and deserve.

Support flexibility and life-work balance.  Offer flexible work arrangements within positions and work environment, as able, to allow employees to work at their best and integrate life-work matters into their day.

Enact policy change. Consider organizational policies that prioritize employee mental health, like flexibility, personal time off versus sick time, leave of absence and health and well-being programs.

Explore lived experiences