logo image

ATD Blog

Are You Ready to Start the Conversation About Mental Health at Your Organization?


Mon Apr 03 2023

Are You Ready to Start the Conversation About Mental Health at Your Organization?

Brought to you by

When someone gets sick or experiences a major physical health change, we typically rally around them with a meal train and plenty of casseroles. In contrast, mental illness is often considered “no casserole” territory—many people don’t know how to recognize it, let alone talk about it. There’s guilt and shame for those experiencing mental illness, and for those supporting others, there can be frustration, minimizing, and even avoidance.

What Is the Impact on Organizations?

Mental illness affects the daily lives of your associates, team members, and leaders, including how they show up in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five adults will experience a mental illness each year. That’s more than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. Our research found that more than 90 percent of people report having someone in their life affected by a mental illness. Whether an employee wrestles with it or supports someone affected, mental illness can create tremendous stress and often prevent them from doing their best work.


What Can We Do About It?

It starts with providing education, resources, and support around mental health conditions to normalize these experiences. This allows employees to fully engage, bring their best selves, and truly thrive, all of which help create a successful organization.

We are living this journey at TiER1 Performance. In 2015, we partnered with mental health experts to create and launch Start the Conversation, a month-long program designed to educate, prompt dialogue, and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. We updated the program in 2020. As part of our mission to improve organizations through individual performance to build a better world, our goal was to pilot the initiative at TiER1, then freely share it with other organizations to create an even greater impact. Little did we know how much it would affect our culture, nor did we realize its significant impact on business performance.

Since its launch, the CDC has recognized Start the Conversation as a workplace mental health success story and the American Psychiatric Association Center for Workplace Mental Health has used it as a model case study.

Fostering an environment where employees can talk openly about mental health has resulted in numerous cases where people are comfortable and knowledgeable in seeking help for family members, friends, and themselves. This has ultimately made TiER1 a healthier organization, and the same story is playing out at other organizations participating in the program. If you’d like to explore creating this same shift at your organization, request our free Start the Conversation toolkit.

The Start the Conversation toolkit includes the following:

  • An electronic guidebook for employees to navigate content, resources, and tools

  • Weekly email templates for consistent, relevant communications

  • Pre- and post-program surveys to gather data and assess the program’s impact

  • Opt-in text campaign for those wanting a daily nudge of engagement

  • Weekly session materials with notes to help facilitators feel confident engaging participants each week

  • Custom tools and curated resources to personalize the journey

  • Optional implementation support and a free consultation to get you started

At TiER1, we often say that people don’t exist to serve organizations, but rather, organizations exist to serve people. Organizations broker value between two sets of customers: the ones that pay them and the ones they pay. Suppose as organization leaders we truly want to do something to raise our impact for both. In that case, we should do everything we can to stop the stigma, start the conversation, and help people address the challenge of mental illness that surrounds us daily.

All the mental health resources TiER1 has produced are freely available to other organizations. If we can help your organization start its journey, contact us. However you do it, prioritize supporting your people in their mental health challenges. It will change their lives and your organization for the better.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy