Three places to start for a mentally healthy workplace

- November 7, 2022 3 MIN READ
happy team in office

Supporting your employees’ wellbeing is absolutely paramount for a healthy and productive business. Productivity and workplace wellbeing expert, Chelsea Pottenger, shares the three essential ways business leaders can create a mentally healthy workplace.

Building an environment where employees feel respected, supported and safe to speak up about concerns or worries not only benefits your employees’ health, but your business’ health as well.

Poor mental health costs Australian businesses $10.9 billion every year in absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims.

Establishing a mentally healthy workplace leads to greater job satisfaction, increased productivity, fewer sick days and reduced staff turnover.

So, as a business leader, how can you encourage a mentally healthy workplace? 

1. Role-model positive mental health

This doesn’t mean putting on a happy face, it means looking after yourself.

We all know that CEO who lives off four hours of sleep a night, drinks five cups of coffee to wake up and is constantly ‘switched on’. This way of living has been etched into the brains of corporate high flyers as what it means to be successful. Truth is, it’s unhealthy and unsustainable.

Try role-modelling better mental health by:

  • Leading by example: In order to create a mentally healthy workplace it needs to come from the top down. This means it starts with you. How can you add small mindful acts to your routine?
  • Switching off out of hours: If your employees see emails coming through at 10pm, they are likely to feel obliged to reply straight away. Role-modelling a healthy work life balance will allow employees to feel they can do the same.
  • Taking proper breaks: Get some fresh air and leave the insular rooms of the office. In order to perform at your best you need to take proper breaks, away from your computer and away from your phone. Get outside for a walk and eat lunch out of the office.
  • Prioritising self-care: Know your capacity and how much you can realistically take on. By setting boundaries you are role-modelling a workplace where it is okay to say ‘no’, kindly.

2. Talk openly about mental health in the workplace

Be open about mental health discussions and any struggles you have faced. Being vulnerable as a leader opens the door for employees to feel comfortable talking with you about any challenges they may be experiencing, building a stronger and safer workplace culture.

Man with head in hands at work desk


It’s also important to have regular check-ins with your employees to identify any potential stressors your employees may face.

Common stressors at work may include:

  • Not understanding the role or task at hand.
  • Not feeling valued or appreciated.
  • A workload which is too high.
  • Not having the appropriate training or resources to do the job.

It is crucial to understand each individual employee’s capacity and work with them to their strengths.

3. Schedule in mindful breaks for your employees

Incorporating breaks for a few minutes of mindfulness into your workplace can be simple, yet highly effective.

Allowing your mind and body even just ten minutes to meditate, stretch or breathe can have a profound impact on your mental wellbeing at work.

Ways you can introduce mindful breaks:

Box breathing how-to: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds – and repeat.

Fostering a mentally healthy workplace begins with its leaders. It is your job to role-model healthy behaviours, speak openly and encourage work life balance.

When your mental health is prioritised, so is the mental health of your employees.

This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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