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ATD Blog

Integrating Mental Well-Being Into the Employee Journey

Monday, April 29, 2024

Stressed. Overworked. Isolated. Burned out. These are a few of the most common responses when we ask workers what words come to mind when they think about mental health at work.

Many companies offer mental health support for individual employees, including Employee Assistance Programs, meditation apps, and other benefits—all of these are foundational. But recently, the true benefit of individual-focused mental health solutions, particularly self-help tools, has come into question. Moreover, employees themselves say what’s most helpful to their mental health at work is not access to more technology or individual support—it’s a safe, supportive culture at work.

To create this culture, HR leaders can integrate mental health across the employee journey to encourage behaviors that build inclusion, psychological safety, and positive mental health. In this way, supporting mental health moves from an “add-on” to a seamless aspect of existing systems, processes, and practices.

Recruitment and Hiring

In a competitive job market where employees, particularly younger ones, seek companies that invest in mental health, employers can set themselves apart in several ways: promoting support for mental health in their job descriptions, sharing a commitment to mental health in their promotional materials, and incorporating mental health into their brands.

For instance, one consumer goods company integrated mental health into its brand by focusing its social mission on expanding awareness of mental health resources, normalizing conversations about mental health, and transforming its own culture and practices.


Employees’ first experiences, conversations, training, and sense of support are critical to promoting safety and a culture of mental health. We often ask clients how someone starting at their company would know that it is a safe, supportive space for mental health and well-being.


One way is through training and sharing resources. A climate change organization integrated on-demand learning for all new hires to build foundational mental health knowledge and skills, including how to have compassionate and compliant conversations with colleagues. In this training, they review their mental health policies and ensure employees know how to access relevant benefits.

Employee Engagement and Development

Ongoing training, communication, and conversations around mental health can combat stigma and ensure all staff have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to support mental health. We’ve seen our clients put these ideas into practice.

One tech company incorporated mental health reminders, messaging, and stories into its existing monthly manager roundup. A Fortune 100 retail client added modules on mental health to its manager training series. A law firm adapted mental health language and skills to fit into its existing firm-wide tool for difficult conversations.

Don’t forget: A healthy culture is what workers find most helpful when it comes to supporting their mental health at work. This can show up in many ways, including work-life balance, autonomy, and flexibility. One actionable way to reinforce a healthy culture is to equip and empower employees to discuss working styles and norms within their teams around communications, urgency, decision making, and making work work in the long term.


Performance and Advancement

Performance processes and promotions can encourage cultures of mental health by including questions about whether managers and leaders demonstrate empathy, empower their teams, and model behavior that supports employee well-being, like respecting off hours.

Measurement is also important, and it gives companies a road map of where they are, where they are going, and how to improve. A school system built a continuous improvement cycle around mental health in which they survey staff yearly and use the results to identify areas of improvement for the coming year. The surveys also elicit employee voices, perspectives, and ideas. They created a mental health advisory committee with representatives from across the organization who review the results and generate recommendations for improvement.


Finally, during exit interviews, HR and talent teams can ask about employees’ experiences around mental health and company culture and use this data in a regular feedback loop. They can also provide exiting employees access to mental health support and resources. For employees remaining at a company, particularly in response to a restructuring event like a layoff, employers can communicate transparently about ongoing organizational changes and offer resources and other investments to support them.

All of these examples point to the importance of HR and talent leaders proactively identifying points along the employee journey where actionable support for mental health can be integrated. Through intentional planning and ongoing feedback loops, HR and talent leaders can play a key role in creating workplaces where employees can do good work and feel the sense of belonging, impact, and community that mentally healthy workplaces provide.

About the Author

Michael Davis, a principal at the nonprofit Mind Share Partners, provides impact-focused advising for companies and leaders on how to integrate key strategies and practices that support cultures of workplace mental health. As a former social worker, educator, and nonprofit executive, Michael brings deep experience in supporting organizations across various industries, from Fortune 50 retailers to nonprofit school districts, to transform their mindsets, practices, and cultures.

About the Author

Carrie Grogan, a principal at the nonprofit Mind Share Partners, leads impact-focused advising for companies and leaders on how to create a culture of support for mental health in the workplace. An experienced facilitator and leader in learning & development, employee engagement, and inclusivity, Carrie provides workplace training and leads strategic projects for broad audiences across a range of industries to reduce stigma, increase belonging, and empower organizations and employees to thrive.

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