August 9, 2023

How Workplaces Can Prioritize Mental Health

Tony Coder, Executive Director, Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF)

When it comes to addressing mental health in the workplace, it’s all about balance – balancing the importance of employee well-being with overall company wellbeing. There is now strong evidence to support the idea that when a company looks after its employees’ mental health, it prevents turnover and improves economic outcomes for the company in the long term.

According to a 2018 study by researchers at Penn State University, poor mental health ranked as one of the costliest forms of sickness for U.S. workers. In an analysis from 2008 to 2014, the researchers found that a single additional day lost to poor mental health in a month was associated with a 1.84 percent drop in the per capita real income growth rate, resulting in $53 billion less total income each year for U.S. businesses.

To help businesses address mental in the workplace, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation created the Mental Health in the Workplace Employer Resource Guide. The guide acts as a toolkit to provide helpful tips and talking points, statewide and federal resources, and “postvention” strategies — ways to respond when a suicide occurs in the workplace. There are also marketing materials, including posters, rack cards, flyers, and more, provided with the toolkit to promote the use of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline throughout the workplace.

One key focus of the guide is to encourage employers to choose insurance and benefit options for employees that prioritize mental health care costs. By offering insurance coverage and employee assistance programs (EAP) for counseling, substance use treatment, and other forms of support, a workplace can ensure that employees can seek help effectively and discreetly.

Additionally, it is important to help employees understand how to access and utilize their insurance benefits not only during open enrollment, but year-round. If your workplace offers an EAP, share information about the EAP during onboarding for new employees, on the company digital pages, and in staff emails or newsletters.

The guide also recommends that workplaces engage with employees around mental health by offering regular educational content on mental health and suicide prevention (communications, lunch-and-learns, trainings, etc.), continually promoting resources and making information available to all employees so they know where and how to get help.

With these practices in place, workplaces can ensure the health of their employees, and therefore their businesses, long term so that everyone succeeds. Workplaces can reach out to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation for additional support including training, marketing materials and informational resources, by contacting If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, call or text the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.