top of page

Mental Health: How Can Employers Improve Their Employee's Well-being

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Across the world and before the pandemic, "one billion people lived with a mental health issue" (Melimopoulos, 2021). In 2016, roughly 1 in 5 adults in the US experienced a form of mental illness (CDC, 2019). To improve our well-being, taking care of our mental health is equally as important as taking care of our physical health.

Mental health ultimately “affects how we think, feel, and act” (CDC, 2021).

Mental health during the pandemic

During this pandemic, lockdowns and quarantines are nothing new. For many, the restrictions of lockdowns and quarantines have led to depression, fear, insomnia and anger. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) indicates that roughly 80% of Ontario residents “believe we’ll be in a serious mental health crisis post-pandemic” (CMHA, 2021). According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll, roughly 50% of Americans indicate that the pandemic is causing harm to their mental health (Wan, 2020).

During the pandemic, roughly more than 20% of healthcare workers have experienced either depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (Marples, 2021). Essential workers, like home care workers, are at a greater risk of poor mental health because they cannot work from home and risk exposing the virus to their loved ones.

What causes poor mental health in home care workers?

During this pandemic, many frontline workers have been experiencing anxiety and burnout. Many worry and fear that they will catch the virus and expose their loved ones to it. Many home care workers help their patients run errands, like the grocery stores or pharmacies and often take public transportation to get to their patient’s home, which all increases the chance of catching the virus. Additionally, they accompany their patients to their medical visits, which increases the risk of these workers catching the virus either from the public or their patients. Home care workers often work very closely with their patients, such as helping them bathe, prepare their meals, and clean around their homes. They are the ones who are unable to social distance and risk exposure to germs.

When healthcare workers lack adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), it can lead to burnout. Home care workers during the pandemic were needed for essential work, yet they received limited PPE. Home care workers sit low on the federal priority list for PPE, like N95 masks and “among those who get PPE, many say it’s nowhere near enough.” (Luthra, 2020).

There is a correlation between anxiety and PPE. The Healthcare Worker Pandemic Experience survey conducted in April illustrates that “those reporting none of their PPE needs were met were the most anxious, with 65 per cent reporting anxiety levels higher than the cut-off score of 3” (Institute for Work & Health, 2020). When there is adequate PPE and infection control, it can improve the mental health of healthcare workers.

How to improve your mental health?

When an individual improves their mental health, it can positively impact their physical health. Simple tips that help improve our mental health include, but are not limited to:

  • Exercising regularly

  • Having a proper diet/eating well-balanced meals

  • Getting adequate sleep

  • Yoga/Meditation

  • Deep breathing

  • Tai Chi

  • Finding time for those you love and for yourself

  • Talking to your co-workers and supervisors consistently

  • Journaling

Why is it important to address mental health in the workplace?

For employers, the well-being of their employees is critical. When employees have poor mental health, their productivity, performance, engagement with their work, and communication with their co-workers are negatively impacted. For instance, when employees feel burnout, more than often, the quality of care provided decreases, and there is an increase in the risk of patient incidents.

A statistic illustrates that depression is predicted “to cost $44 billion a year in lost productivity in the U.S. alone” (DeTienne et al., 2020). A study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates “that for every US$ 1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity” (World Health Organization).

What contributes to the employee's overall productivity and well-being is mental wellness (Horch, 2020). According to a Monster survey conducted in the US with 1,000 full-time and part-time employees, it illustrates that 24% of them have experienced depression, and 34% of them revealed that their job harmed their mental health (Gross). The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) survey indicates that the main parts of a job affected by anxiety and depression were workplace performance, relationships at the office, and their quality of work (Gross). Roughly 62% of missed work is because of mental health conditions (Gross).

How we can help

Approximately 95% of the time, when employees call in sick, they lie and say it is a physical issue rather than a mental health issue because they are afraid of discrimination and stigma (Wentzell, 2021).

Some steps for employers to help improve the mental health of their employees is to provide managers & supervisors with training that helps them to catch signs of depression or stress among their team and encourage them to get help. Additionally, allowing employees to be a part of the decision-making process that affects their job stress can improve the mental health of employees. Hosting workshops that help provide tips to address stress management can improve employees' mental health. Another is to conduct anonymous surveys that allow employers to gain insight into the employee’s attitudes and thoughts towards their managers and their company.

Roughly 50% of employees don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health issues (Beheshti, 2020).

A study in 2019 by Businesssolver indicated that 68% of employees “worry that reaching out about a mental health issue could negatively impact their job security” (Horch 2020).

One way to increase employee engagement is to allow employees to be truly themselves in the workplace and provide them with a sense of psychological safety. When employees and employers have a good relationship, that particular employee would be empowered to tell their employer about their mental health problem.

Gaining feedback from home healthcare workers helps begin the process of creating a safe work environment. Not only does it help foster a safer environment, but workers feel that they are being heard and valued.


Surveys are a great way to deploy these questions to their employees. Long surveys can be overwhelming. However, pulse surveys are short, frequent surveys that can be tailored to specific topics to assess their change over time. Pulse surveys allow staff members to see the impact of their modifications in real-time. The frequent nature of pulse surveys means the information management and staff member sees will always be current.

Retainify is an employee engagement software that offers a unified solution that allows you to track employee sentiment and measure engagement in real-time. Proactively identify issues that are preventing them from being their best at work. Improve business outcomes by improving the employee experience, and enhance company culture one feedback at a time. Turn Feedback into Action.

Questions or Feedback?



  1. Beheshti, N. (2020, May 28). 10 Eye-Opening Statistics On The Mental Health Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  2. CDC. (2019, April 10). Mental Health in the Workplace. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  3. CDC. (2021, June 28). About Mental Health. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  4. CMHA. (2021, March 15). Third poll in CMHA Ontario series indicates mental health impact of COVID-19 at all-time high. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  5. DeTienne, K. B., Hooley, J. M., Larrocha, C., & Reay, A. (2020, January 15). How to Manage an Employee with Depression. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  6. Dunne, J. (2019, May 9). How to Protect Home Health Workers from Social & Environmental Risks. HomeCare Magazine.

  7. Favaro, A., Philip, E. S., & Jones, A. M. (2021, January 28). Health-care and front-line workers describe dealing with anxiety, PTSD due to covid-19. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  8. Gross, E. L. (n.d.). Depression at Work: How to Cope. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  9. Horch, A. (2020, October 05). Coronavirus stress: Mental health issues are rising among workers, but help is available. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  10. Institute for Work & Health. (2020, May 23). Anxiety levels among health-care workers during COVID-19 linked to inadequate PPE. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  11. Law, T. (2020, April 10). 'We Carry That Burden.' Medical Workers Fighting COVID-19 Are Facing a Mental Health Crisis. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  12. Luthra, S. (2020, September 14). 'I'm beyond terrified': For Home Care Workers, covid-19 is a health crisis and an economic one. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  13. ​​Marples, M. (2021, March 11). Over 1 in 5 health care workers experience depression and anxiety during the pandemic, study says. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  14. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, February 27). Alzheimer's and dementia: Caregiver depression. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  15. Melimopoulos, E. (2021, March 22). How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mental health. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  16. Pallarito, K. (2021, March 01). Burned Out by COVID Caregiving, Health Care Workers Say It's Time to Fix the System. Is Anyone Listening? Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  17. Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Cox, C., & Garfield, R. (2021, February 10). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  18. Pelley, L. (2021, January 12). Health-care workers battled burnout before COVID-19 — now it's even worse, experts warn. CBCnews.

  19. Roberts, N., Kelly, C. A., & Welch, L. (2021, August 25). COVID-19: Frontline nurses did not receive the mental health support they deserved. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  20. Rollison, J., & Etchegaray, J. M. (2020, December 10). Elevating the well-being of Home Care Workers. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  21. Spectrum. (2020, April 21). Self-care is important for frontline workers and caregivers. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  22. Tomer, A., & Kane, J. W. (2020, June 10). To protect frontline workers during and after COVID-19, we must define who they are. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  23. Vescera, Z. (2021, June 05). For health care workers, mental health concerns loom on other side of pandemic. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  24. Wan, W. (2020, May 4). The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  25. WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2021, March 29). How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  26. WebMD. (2020). Mental Health Benefits of Journaling. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  27. Wentzell, S. (2021, August 29). 95% of employees who call in sick for mental illness say it's a physical ailment: Expert. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from

  28. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health in the Workplace. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from

47 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page