Mental Health and the Workplace

April 28, 2012

Mental Health and The Workplace

Have you ever been frustrated and overwhelmed with your job?  Have you ever had to work with a difficult co-worker or supervisor?  I imagine most workers can answer yes to these questions.  If you can answer yes to these questions, you probably already know that the environment of the workplace can affect a worker’s well-being and mental health.  According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, several key issues have been shown to have a significant effect on employee mental health. The following factors not only impact the health of the individual employees, they also impact the health of the organization and the organization’s financial bottom line.

  • Psychological Support
  • Organizational Culture
  • Clear Leadership & Expectations
  • Civility & Respect
  • Psychological Job Fit
  • Growth & Development
  • Recognition & Reward
  • Involvement & Influence
  • Workload Management
  • Engagement
  • Balance
  • Psychological Protection


There are several other workplace issues that can affect mental health including stigma and discrimination; demand and reward relationships; job burnout; harassment, violence, and bullying; substance use, misuse and abuse at work.  Organizations should consider all these factors in their efforts to create a mentally healthy workplace.

According to Workplace Mental Health Promotion,there are eight workplace strategies that can positively affect mental health in the workplace.  These include the following:

  1. Encouraging active employee participation and decision making
  2. Clearly defining employees’ duties and responsibilities
  3. Promoting work-life balance
  4. Encouraging respectful and non-derogatory behaviors
  5. Managing workloads
  6. Allowing continuous learning
  7. Having conflict resolution practices in place
  8. Recognizing employees’ contributions effectively


Achieving some of these strategies are more challenging than others because organizations are made up of individuals with many personalities and backgrounds.  The differences can make working together difficult.  In general, employees want to feel appreciated, respected and treated as a team player.  Working in a positive environment is so important for positive well-being.

The impact a boss or supervisor has in the workplace environment is huge.  In fact, an online study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found employees who said their supervisors were coercive, pressuring and authoritarian, or non-supportive, felt their needs weren’t being met and had lower levels of well-being.  And the way an employee feels at work can account for more than a quarter of the differences in work performance between individuals, according to the authors of the study.

The American Psychological Association offers tips for managing your boss which I encourage anyone that is experiencing difficulties with their boss to read.  In my own life, I have been a worker and a boss.  Overall, I have had positive experiences as both.  I have found that stress in the workplace as well as stress in our personal life needs to be managed.  For me, exercise, a healthy diet, counseling, support from family and friends, as well as a healthy spiritual life have all contributed to the healthy well-being, I now maintain.

Have you ever experienced stress in the workplace?  Have you ever had a difficult boss?  If so, what helped or hurt the situation?  I would love for you to share your comments below.

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