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MHAW 2020: How can we promote positive mental wellbeing at work?

Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time, and are a growing public health concern.

Mental health can have a significant impact on someone’s ability to perform well in their job and, equally, our working environment can have a big impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

  • 1 in 6 workers will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress at any one time[1]
  • There were 602,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 in Great Britain[2]
  • In 2018/19, stress, depression or anxiety was responsible for 44% of all cases of work-related ill health and 54% of all working days lost due to health issues in GB[2]

Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is of increasing importance. Ensuring employees are healthy, happy, and supported at work has a range of benefits such as:

  • Healthier employees often take fewer sick days
  • Greater staff motivation and retention
  • Improved psychological wellbeing
  • Positive work-related attitude

Steps should be taken by employers to promote a mentally healthy workplace, and we can all do our part to support ourselves and each other.

1. Positive work-life balance

We all know it can be hard to switch off from work, especially with technology, but small steps such as leaving on time and keeping work at work (not scrolling emails in the evening!) can help create a healthy separation between work and home life. Make time for yourself, as well as your friends and family. Think about what this balance looks like for you.

2. Ask for help

Many of us have stressful and demanding jobs and sometimes it can feel like things are piling up. If this happens, take a moment to breathe. Write a to do list. Work out what things you can change, and what is out of your control. Remember you can say no and ask a colleague or your manager for help if you need it.

3. Look after your workspace

Many of us spend most of the day at work, so it is important to look after your workspace. Decluttering a messy desk will help your mind feel clearer and focus better on the tasks at hand. Things such as buying a plant, a desk organiser and photos of people or pets can brighten up a desk.

4. Keep active

Allow time in your schedule for exercise (this doesn’t have to be the gym, anything that you enjoy and gets you moving!). Take breaks from a desk job to stretch your legs, go for a walk outside on your lunch break or organise a fun activity after work with a colleague. Many employers offer discounted gym memberships too!

5. Take the time to listen

It’s such a simple thing but taking time out of your day to ask someone if they are OK, and actually listening to the response, can make a world of difference. We all lead busy lives but stopping for a moment to talk to someone about their feelings or sharing a problem could take a weight off their shoulders.

6. Be kind!

Being kind costs nothing, and the smallest gesture can bring a smile to someone’s face and make their day. Pay a colleague a compliment, offer to make them a tea or coffee, ask how their day is going or what they have planned for the weekend.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 takes place from 18-24 May 2020. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the theme is kindness. Let’s all do our bit to be more kind!


  1. McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 [Internet]. Leeds; 2016. Available from: content.digital.nhs.uk
  2. Health and Safety Executive. Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2019 [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2020 Jan 6]. Available from: hse.gov.uk

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Posted: 20 May 2020

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