Inside the Realities of Workplace Mental Health (and What Leaders Can Do to Help)

Kelly Greenwood | Founder & CEO, Mind Share Partners

About 20 percent of employees manage a diagnosable mental health condition, and about half will experience at least a temporary condition at some point in their lives.

This article was originally published on Mind Share Partners' "Mental Health at Work" section on Thrive Global.

The prevalence of corporate wellness programs has become essentially ubiquitous. Competitive employers seek to retain top talent and drive overall productivity among healthy, happy employees by offering discounted gym memberships, a communal fridge stocked with vegetables, and — at least for hip startups — ping pong tables.


While these perks certainly help to reduce stress and burnout, they aren’t the full answer for workplace mental health.

What we rarely see are wellness strategies that address the impact of diagnosable mental health conditions at work such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

In fact, stress and burnout can often trigger these conditions.


Mental health conditions are extremely common. They affect every conference call, every meeting, and every team. About 20 percent of employees manage a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year, and about half of all employees will experience at least a temporary condition at some point in their lives. Despite being more widespread than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, the serious issue of discussing and managing mental health symptoms at work remains highly stigmatized in business environments.


Changing the culture around workplace mental health so that both employees with conditions and their organizations can thrive is an imperative cultural shift, and the moment to make it happen is now.


Even your highest-performing employees are likely to have a mental health condition.

Despite the stigma of mental health diagnoses, the same conditions that can create occasional challenges can also drive success. For example, people with anxiety may be more driven to excellence. Those with bipolar disorder can be highly creative and have periods of tremendous productivity. Additionally, those with mental health conditions tend to have greater empathy for others' struggles, which can translate to strong management skills.


Your employees with mental health conditions are likely hiding it.

Even though mental health conditions may affect your