Mental Health In The Workplace

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Anneke Kirsten  |  Counselling Pychologist  |  Cape Town

October 19 2020

The mental health of a company’s employees plays a big role in the success of the company. It is therefore extremely important for a company to educate its staff about mental health issues and put structures in place in order to monitor the wellbeing of staff as well as address issues as they arise.

What is mental health in the workplace?

Mental health refers to how we think, feel, and behave. The most common mental health issues most employees suffer from are anxiety and depression and are most commonly caused by stress and pressure in the workplace as well as possible financial stress.

Why should companies invest in the mental health of their employees?

Mental illness leads to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, poor work performance which in turn costs the company unnecessary money. Companies who take care of their employees and invest in their employees also attract higher-skilled individuals and in turn, have decreased staff turnover.

How can companies invest in the mental health of their employees?

Reduce the stigma of mental illnesses in the workplace

Educate employees on mental health issues and encourage open conversations about the topic. This will counteract staff feeling isolated about the way they feel and allow them to identify why they are feeling unhappy. Education is key in starting the journey to good mental health.

Early detection

People spend about 60 % of their time at work where stressors are rife. It is important to try and address issues before they become debilitating. By putting systems in place where you are able to check in with staff on a regular basis and discuss any issues or feelings toward workload will allow you to detect any issues before they get worse.

Encourage a favourable balance between work and life

Look at possibilities to allow for more flexibility in your employees’ work schedule like offering flexible work hours. For example: offering the option to work from home once or twice per week for parents or adjusting work hours for those who have a longer commute into the office.

Treat all employees fairly

A working environment that works for one individual doesn’t necessarily work for another. Do some research into the personalities of your staff members to see which working environment works best for them. E.g Extroverts thrive in a loud social environment where introverts battle to concentrate. Make sure you consider all personality types in the workplace in order to create a favourable working environment for all.


Regular screening is a good way to find out the state of an employee’s wellbeing. Use anonymous online screenings and questionnaires to keep on top of mental health issues amongst your workforce.

Set clear targets

it is a known fact that employees work better when there are clear targets set out for them. With this being said, a company should also have clear goals for mental health in their organisation and an idea of what they would like to achieve by investing in the wellbeing of their employees.


All these points will help you in creating a more holistic approach to mental health in your workplace. Once you invest in the wellbeing of others, they will invest in you.

I’m Anneke Kirsten-Barnard, a Counselling Psychologist (MA Counseliing Psychology) with a special interest in Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership training. I help corporate professionals and leaders overcome workplace challenges and reach their full potential.