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3 Pillars of Mental Health in the Workplace

Topics: Work Culture
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Image Credit: Pexels / bruce mars

Workplace cultures that afford employees solid work-life boundaries, equity in the workplace, recognition for their efforts, and reward for a job well done engender good mental health among employees and managers alike.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada defines “mental health” as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community.”

Good Boundaries

According to Forbes, we already spend about one third of our lives at work. With advances in technology – including email, messaging platforms like Slack, and smart phones in general – many people end up thinking about and responding to work-related matters on personal time. This encroachment of work in our personal lives can cause significant stress and anxiety, and than can lead to depression.

Does your employer insist that you read and respond to emails even when you’re not at work? Do you feel pressured to work overtime or on weekends? Are you reasonably able to get all of your work done during the workday, or are you constantly scrambling to complete work-related tasks on your personal time? Employers that care about their employees foster good mental health by creating and enforcing good work-life boundaries and respecting their employees’ legitimate need to personal time, away from the responsibilities of work.

Do You Know What You're Worth?


Employers who treat their employees with fairness are also creating environments that foster mental health. The World Health Organization report, Mental Health Policies and Programs in the Workplace, states “Positive feelings of equity and fairness lead to increased satisfaction and motivation as well as commitment to work.”  And positive feelings and satisfaction also create good mental health in the workplace.

“Equity and fairness”  includes fairness of pay. Women who are paid less than men for the same job are not working for a equitable organization, and their workplace is not conducive to mental health. Employees who feel there is an underlying bias against them and are passed over for promotions or feel less valued are experiencing a sense of inequity.

Equity also refers to being included in decisions that affect you. Are you consulted about changes in the workplace that have a direct effect upon you?  If not, you may feel you’re being pushed around and not respected. Even if the changes are unavoidable, employees treated with equity are informed ahead of time and in a respectful manner.

Recognition and Reward

“Recognition and reward” mean more than just adequate compensation. Are you valued as an employee? Managers who engender good mental health find ways to thank employees for jobs well done, rather than operating under the false assumption that a bi-weekly paycheck is enough.

Sometimes being acknowledged during a staff meeting does the trick. Employees who do not feel valued are more likely to become depressed, so recognition is important. Aside from a simple “thank you”, workplaces that are good for mental health likely offer other rewards, including bonuses and perks like gym memberships, which can improve employee morale.

Some workplaces have a culture of communication and trust between employers and employees. Your manager should attend to employees needs, act as a mentor or coach, encourage your creativity, and motivate you while communicating goals. Sounds like a tall order for the manager, but ask yourself if you feel you can approach your manager or employer with questions and concerns.

If you feel like you’re being listened to and taken seriously, you are likely being recognized as a valuable asset to the company. If you want to work in a place that engenders good mental health, look for evidence of good boundaries, equity, recognition and reward.


Does your place of work support good mental health? We want to hear about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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