Mental Health in the Workplace

Did you know that we spend more waking hours at work than at home? Inevitably, we communicate more with coworkers than friends and families and comparatively little time focusing on other things, like hobbies or family and friends. As a result, our jobs can have a significant impact on our psychological well-being. According to the Workplace Health Survey conducted by Mental Health America, “80% of employees stated that workplace stress affected their personal relationships.”

Why should I care?

Mental health conditions cost the United States over $200 billion a year, greater than the cost of heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.1 But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are also indirect costs to consider, like increased rates of short-term disability, safety incidents, absenteeism, presenteeism (working while sick), underperformance, stress imposed on team members, overtime and overstaffing to cover absences, and hiring costs related to recruitment and retention. That’s a long list that can affect the bottom line.

What can I do to help?

According to conclusions reached at the Mental Health in the Workplace Health Summit in 2016, it begins with prevention and strong support from leadership. The summit’s advisory council report recommends looking at ways to:

  • Address “modifiable risk factors” within the company’s control to reduce the onset of stress and other issues—physical and psychological job demands should be safe and attainable for the employees with the employee playing an active role
  • Create a workplace culture that enhances total health and well-being (physical, emotional, social, financial, intellectual, and spiritual requirements)
  • Foster a supportive work environment between peers and their superiors—companies where creativity, team work, safety, and flexibility are rewarded, attract and retain high-functioning employees

Beyond prevention, find ways to support employees who might be showing signs of mental health issues. The report mentions tools like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and tools that screen and/or educate employees on mental illness. The more you promote these resources, the more you reduce the stigma and fear that is related. This will help to create an environment that makes employees feel okay to seek help. The results? Healthy employees at work, ready to be productive.

Recommendations for Action

After the 2016 Mental Health in the Workplace Public Health Summit, an advisory council established recommendations for action for employers and mental health professionals:

  • Develop a recognition program to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and positively influence customer behaviors.
  • Develop a scorecard that highlights areas of need and important health and wellness priorities, such as mental health. Ensure the scorecard keeps track of the effectiveness of policies and programs implemented by measuring things such as employee satisfaction, turnover, and reduction in healthcare and disability costs.
  • Engage the executive leadership and build a positive work environment by partnering with a business school to establish an executive training program focused on mental health

Virtual Care

Meet with a physician or mental health professionals from the comfort of your home—or anywhere else in the United States. No appointment necessary. Virtual Care visits cost less than most urgent or emergency care visits! Share this time and money-saving benefit with your employees. Print the flyer, poster, and table tent to hang up around your office; and share the videos via your employee newsletter, email, or intranet.


1Roehrig C., Mental disorders top the list of the most costly conditions in the United States: $201 billion. Health Aff 2016. 10–1377.

Virtual Care is not available on CareConnect℠ plans and Individual HMO plans. Refer to your Certificate of Coverage for benefit details. Copays and deductible may apply.

On behalf of Capital BlueCross, American Well Corp. provides this online healthcare tool. American Well is an independent company.