Mental Health in the Workplace: Exploring the ROI of Mental Health Days

When employers invest in mental health days and services for employees to improve their wellbeing, how and where does that translate into a high ROI?



A recent study found that employers who invest in mental health support for their staff experience a positive return of $4 for every $1 that is spent. This is a clear indication that the benefits of supporting staff wellbeing go beyond cultivating a happier and healthier workplace.  

As you think about mental health in the workplace, you may be wondering what types of services you could offer and how that translates into a significant return of investment (ROI). Perhaps one of the most affordable options is offering a mental health day. 

What is a Mental Health Day? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a mental health day is “a limited time away from your usual responsibilities with the intention of recharging and rejuvenating your mental health.” It is not a day of sleeping until noon and mindlessly scrolling on social media, but a deliberate way of spending your day that preferably activates the five senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing to promote mental health. 

Taking a restorative mental health day off work means stepping away from your normal responsibilities for a day, a half day, or even an hour. This can reduce feelings of burnout, improve your morale and attitude, minimize feelings of loneliness, prevent a mental health crisis, and boost your physical health.  

How should you spend your time on a mental health day? 

A healthy and intentional mental health day, half day, or hour may include any of the following to improve mental health conditions: 

  • Resting and relaxing (no alarm clock) 
  • Being mindful and meditating 
  • Spending time outdoors 
  • Reviewing your goals 
  • Eating mindfully (healthy, balanced meal) 
  • Self-reflecting and journaling 
  • Doing something creative that you enjoy (art, puzzle, gardening, painting) 
  • Being physically active (walk, yoga, or anything you enjoy) 
  • Spending time with loved ones 
  • Doing self-care (massage, spa treatment, relaxing bath) 
  • Unplugging from social media 
  • Reading a book 

The key is to focus on employee mental health with activities that promote relaxation, self-care, and mental rejuvenation. Listen to your body and mind and choose activities that will help you feel better. 

Why Employers Should Offer Mental Health Days 

As an employer, allowing employees to take a mental health day or even a mental health hour every so often is a simple, affordable way of showing you care about your employees’ mental health. This and other proactive support for your team’s mental health promotes the long-term success of your business and boosts your bottom line for an impactful ROI in the following ways: 

1.    Improved Employee Retention  

If your company is making an ongoing commitment to prioritize the mental health of its employees, this could be a major determining factor in whether someone chooses to stay with you or seek employment elsewhere. In fact, one study found that 79% of professionals would be more likely to stay at a company that proactively invests in mental health resources for staff.  

As you compare the steep costs of recruiting/hiring new employees with retaining existing employees, keeping your talent in the building by improving mental health in the workplace will boost profits and support the long-term growth of your company.  

2.    Increased Productivity  

There are many different mental health concerns that impact how employees behave at work and ultimately on the amount of work they can produce. For example, an employee with anxiety may be distracted from the task at hand, as their mind is constantly drawn to intrusive thoughts. These thoughts make it more difficult to meet deadlines, which puts additional pressure on both the individual and the company as a whole. 

Employees with poor mental health, who struggle with confidence, or have low self-esteem may not be able to interpret constructive feedback in a positive way. Even if the deliverer provides useful advice in a sensitive way, someone with poor mental health might withdraw further from their responsibilities as a result, making it more difficult to manage their daily workload.  

Providing employees with resources to cope with and manage their mental health issues will have a direct impact on their overall wellbeing, which directly correlates with their output. 

3.    Reduced Presenteeism

Have you ever experienced days where you are physically at work, but you do not feel fully present? This is known as presenteeism and it is a huge financial drain for businesses, with one study estimating that presenteeism costs the U.S. economy $150 billion every year in lost productivity. Not surprisingly, mental health is one of the leading causes of this challenge. 

Employees who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other challenges with mental health in the workplace may show up to work but may not be able to fully focus or contribute. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased errors, reduced creativity, and has a negative impact on overall team morale.  

Providing mental health resources and support to your team helps employees stay focused on their job responsibilities, which minimizes presenteeism. 

What Other Mental Health Services Can Employers Offer?  

Now that you understand how providing access to mental health services will improve your company’s bottom line, you may be wondering what other types of workplace mental health services you could offer. In addition to providing a mental health day, you may consider any of the following initiatives to improve employee retention, increase productivity, and reduce presenteeism. 

Safe Work Environment 

Train managers to be sensitive to employees’ needs and mental health issues. Create a work environment where employees feel safe to admit when they need help with their mental health, without fear of retaliation or feeling like something is wrong with them. 

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 

Contract with an EAP to provide confidential counseling and support services to employees and their families for various issues like stress, anxiety, mental health disorders, or personal challenges. 

Access to Mental Health Professionals 

Partner with local therapists or counselors to offer discounted rates for employees for in-person and/or virtual counseling sessions to address mental health.

Wellness Workshops and Seminars 

Organize workshops, seminars, or lunch-and-learns on mental health topics where mental health professionals speak about stress management, coping techniques, mindfulness, and other relevant topics. 

Flexible Work Arrangements 

Offer flexible work hours, remote work options, or compressed workweeks to help employees manage their work-life balance, reduce stress, and promote a mentally healthy workforce.

Stress-Busting Activities 

From morning yoga, onsite massages, stretching, and meditation classes, to lunchtime relay races, dance sessions, karaoke parties, painting, or hula-hooping, stress-busting activities can improve employee mental health, enhance stress management, and add a flare of fun. 

Online Mental Health Resources 

Provide access to online mental health platforms or apps that offer resources, self-help tools, and virtual counseling to employees. 

Peer Support and Mentoring Programs 

Establish peer support groups or mentoring programs where employees can connect and share experiences, receive emotional support, and provide guidance to one another to improve their workplace mental health. 

Conflict Resolution and Communication Training 

Offer training on conflict resolution and effective communication skills to help employees manage workplace conflicts and reduce stress. 

Promote Work-Life Balance 

Encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting clear expectations for work hours and workload. 

In addition to these initiatives, review your health insurance coverage to ensure your policy covers mental health services. Including therapy and counseling as part of employees’ medical coverage makes it much more accessible and affordable to receive professional help and improve employee mental health. 

Stratus HR Can Help with Your Mental Health in the Workplace Offerings 

At Stratus HR, we know that many employees face overwhelming challenges that can be difficult to manage. Our certified HR experts give your internal team a resource to ask tough questions like how or when to make an accommodation for someone with a workplace mental health challenge, as well as guidance for setting up leave policies, developing flexible work options, and creating a positive workplace culture. Stratus also offers comprehensive employee benefit plans (most of which include mental health services) and access to an EAP for employees with or without medical insurance. 

Book a consultation with us today and learn how our comprehensive services and tailored solutions can simplify being an employer and provide easy access to tools your employees need. 

Similar posts