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Mental Health in the Workplace

By Allison Sundman
Kaiser Permanente Media Specialist
06/05/2024 at 02:22 PM

Mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. Nearly 1-in-5 U.S. adults aged 18 or older (18.3%, or 44.7 million people) reported some form of mental illness in 2016. In addition, 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Because much of our lives are spent at work, our workplace environment and support system play a significant role in our overall well-being. 
Ashely Zucker, MD, a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente San Bernardino County, shares some tips for managing your mental health in the workplace. 
About 63% of Americans are part of the U.S. labor force. The workplace can be a key location for activities designed to improve well-being among adults. Workplace wellness programs can identify those at risk, connect them to treatment and put in place support to help people reduce and manage stress. 
Dr. Zucker explains, “Stress levels among employees were high before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, we have seen a rise in stress levels and, more importantly, in mental health diagnoses. Stress in-and-of itself is not a bad thing. Some stress is just a part of everyday life, whether it’s at work or at home, but ongoing elevated levels of stress can lead to a more serious mental health concern or diagnosis.” As the stigma of mental health has decreased, we see more people talking about mental health, recognizing the importance of treatment, and the critical value of early recognition and intervention. 
Employee well-being also impacts employers in terms of productivity and organizational success. “When employees are struggling with their mental health, they are more likely to miss work, or be less engaged or productive at work. When employees feel well, they tend to be more productive, engaged, and creative, which not only enforces their wellbeing but also the well-being of an organization,” shares Dr. Zucker. 
Employers recognize the benefits of investing in employees’ mental well-being: the importance of providing mental health benefits and training managers to support employee’s mental health, listen to their feedback about organizational culture, and provide flexibility where possible. Dr. Zucker adds, “Key outcomes to keep in mind are an engaged employee culture, psychological and physical safety at work, connection and social support, flexibility and autonomy where possible, investing in the professional development of employees and finding meaning in your work.” 
At Kaiser Permanente, total health is more than physical health — it’s about mind, body, and spirit. We want to support a culture that reduces the stigma of mental health conditions (where every employee feels safe and comfortable discussing mental health with their employer), so that everyone can reach out, seek help, and get treatment when needed. Visit for more resources. 
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About Kaiser Permanente 
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and nonprofit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. For more information, go to