HomeWellbeingHow can businesses be proactive in their approach to mental health? 

How can businesses be proactive in their approach to mental health? 

  • 4 Min Read

With 1.6 million people calling in sick this past Monday, ‘National Sickie Day’, saw a significant portion of the workforce out of action. Taking a sick day can be down to more than just illness – it can also be an indication of burnout.

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Imagine a workplace where employees feel supported, valued, and empowered to thrive, both personally and professionally. Sounds unrealistic? It shouldn’t be, yet, the current reality is far from this vision.

The modern work environment, while offering opportunities, is also a breeding ground for stress, anxiety, and burnout. This impacts individual wellbeing and significantly hinders productivity, engagement, and ultimately, business success.

It’s time to move beyond reactive solutions and recognise that investing in employee mental health is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic investment in a sustainable workforce and a successful business.

From Stigma to Support

Less than 1 in 10 employees feel comfortable confiding in their employer about mental health. This stigma stems from outdated perceptions of how mental health can impact your work. Leaders have a responsibility to break this cycle, if they want to make meaningful change.

By prioritising their own mental health and actively fostering open communication, business leaders can create a safe space for employees to seek help without fear and boost their overall workplace.

A study by Deloitte found that employees who see their leaders prioritising mental health are 3 times more likely to seek help themselves. This demonstrates the powerful impact leaders have on shaping workplace culture and normalising conversations about mental health.

However, preaching empathy isn’t enough; there is a need for tangible support and a preventative approach that encourages employees to prioritise their mental health just as they do their physical health. By acknowledging the toll our work culture has taken on mental wellbeing, we can move past reactive workplace support systems that offer help only after problems have appeared.

Prevention, Not Reaction

Waiting until employees are burnt out to offer support is akin to waiting for a fire to start before installing smoke detectors. A preventative approach that encourages proactive mental health practices is crucial.

At Self Space, we work with brands like Google, depop, and Huel who use our Mental Health Champion package that provides 1-1 therapy, therapist-led workshops, talks and training to shape the culture of mental health within their workplaces positively. From our own research, 67% of employees said that these therapy sessions left them feeling more confident, and ultimately better-equipped to handle the pressures of the workplace.

By prioritising early support and mental health education, companies can effectively minimise the risk of burnout and nurture a more resilient workforce. This approach not only enhances individual wellbeing but also contributes to the overall productivity and satisfaction within the organisation, showcasing the impact of preventative mental health measures.

The ROI of Wellbeing

In today’s fast-paced business world, the correlation between employee happiness and productivity isn’t just a theory, it’s a fact. The notion of burnout now transcends the realm of individual concern and becomes a business issue.

Consider this: a recent study found that presenteeism, working while unwell, costs UK businesses up to £29 billion annually. This invisible burden weighs heavily on productivity, engagement, and ultimately, the bottom line. This is where we need a paradigm shift.

Business leaders need to view investments into employee wellbeing not as expenses, but as foresighted investments into a business’s future. By fostering an environment where mental health is prioritised, businesses are not just enhancing individual lives; they’re starting a ripple effect that boosts collective productivity and innovation.

Even amidst budget constraints, actionable, cost-effective strategies can lay the groundwork for a more resilient and mentally healthy workforce.

For example, using internal resources to establish peer-led support networks can provide a platform for employees to share, learn, and grow together. Regular, transparent communication channels can help to demystify mental health, breaking down the barriers of stigma and silence.

An open dialogue culture not only nurtures trust but also fosters a sense of belonging and support among team members.


The current rise in mental health concerns necessitates a fundamental shift from reactive solutions to preventative action. By prioritising mental well-being, businesses can create a more supportive and positive work environment for their employees.

As co-founder of Self Space, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of these initiatives. They’re not just policies or procedures; they’re a testament to a company’s commitment to its most valuable asset – its people.

It’s time we redefine the ROI of wellbeing as not just a return on investment but as a reinforcement of our intrinsic values. Let’s not wait for a crisis to act. The future of our businesses, the wellbeing of our teams, and the health of our bottom line depends on the choices we make today.

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