Elyse Cohen


May 28, 2019


The United States is at a crossroads when it comes to how our society addresses mental health. There is an estimated 157 million adults employed in the United States, with about one in five adults reporting a mental disorder each year. Besides sleep, adults spend more time at work than doing any other activity. With this in mind, the workplace is an important setting to address mental health and employers have an opportunity to do just that.

Employees with depression miss six to 25 more days of work per year and their productivity affects between 13 to 29% of their time at work. Globally, depression costs companies $2.5 trillion per year. The private sector is uniquely positioned to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and implement programs that create healthier and more inclusive work environments.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is proud to partner with the National Council for Behavioral Health to expand National Council’s Mental Health First Aid Training at Work program. The program teaches employers and employees how to help a person with mental health or substance use issues get proper care. Companies, government agencies, schools, and other institutions are actively educating their employees to look for signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses. The Mental Health First Aid Training not only promotes a healthy office environment, but also increases productivity among employees.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are three companies leading the way on mental health and employee well-being programs:


In 2015, Deloitte announced its first Chief Well-being Officer, Jen Fisher. In her inaugural role, she launched Deloitte’s Mental Health at Work campaign that provides not only Mental Health First Aid training, but also other resources, information, and educational opportunities to improve employees’ mental, physical, and emotional health. Through the month of May, Deloitte is partnering with Thrive Global to release content around how to mitigate stress and practice resilience within the workplace. Deloitte’s employee resource initiatives not only promote well-being, but also foster a supportive environment for employees to thrive at work and at home.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) houses many internal employee resource groups and programs about mental health. The J&J Mental Health Diplomats headed by Craig Kramer, J&J’s first Mental Health Ambassador, recruited over 1000 employees in 32 countries and trained more than 350 employees in Mental Health First Aid training. J&J’s Employee Assistance Programs address the complex layers of mental health illness by providing resources in stress management, physical fitness, wellness, and financial budgeting. The company takes a step further to extend mental health services to employees’ family members, ensuring a positive well-being beyond the workplace. As one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the United States, J&J also takes a stand to promote employee mental health by co-founding One Mind at Work, a global coalition of public and private sector leaders committed to workplace mental health. Through internal and external programs to educate and promote the importance of mental health, J&J strives to foster the best workplace for their employees.


When Lendlease realized the real impact of mental health on construction workers, they took matters into their own hands. In 2013, a global health assessment of their organization revealed that 16% of employees globally were at high risk of developing depression and just over 9% experienced stress related to work. In 2015, they introduced Wellbeing Leave, an initiative that allowed employees to take one day off every quarter to attend to their health and well-being needs. In their global headquarters, they established the Wellness Hub, a place for preventative care focused on employees’ well-being. Lendlease was also looking to partner with an organization that could provide additional resources to help employees take a more active approach to improving and supporting the mental health of colleagues, friends, and family and be better able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a developing or current mental illness. The National Council’s Mental Health First Aid Training at Working was a natural fit. Each room in the Wellness Hub provides resources and activities, including a Mental Health First Aid training. Through these opportunities, Lendlease aims to integrate wellness—both physical and emotional—into their work culture.

Mental health illness has socioeconomic and cross-sector consequences. These companies and others are collaborating with the public sector to ensure that their employees feel motivated and happy to come to work. Through the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s new partnership with National Council, we aim to expand the Mental Health First Aid at Work training to more workplaces around the country.

[Editor's Note: National Council is a sponsor of the Chamber Foundation's Ignite Wellness Summit. Join us on June 26 and 27 to learn how your organization can invigorate your workforce and community to achieve better health and wellness. Click here to learn more.]

About the authors

Elyse Cohen