April 29, 2022


How can leaders from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies do more to prioritize mental health? There are opportunities for change in culture, leadership, policy, and much more. Here are a few reasons why you should consider prioritizing mental health in your workplace.

Mental Health Impacts Productivity and Retention

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we believe that when employees are empowered to live their healthiest lives, they are more engaged at work. We recognize that when companies embrace cultures where employees can thrive, this contributes to productivity and retention too.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy recently joined a panel on MINDing Your Business at our Corporate Citizenship Center’s annual Business Solves Conference. He shared a brief overview of the current state of mental health in the workplace, in addition to tips for business leaders looking to do more:

“One is that it’s always helpful to start with listening and understanding what our employees are thinking, how they’re feeling, what they need.

The second is to recognize that culture change is so much more important, sometimes, than policy change. Shifting how we think about and talk about mental health in the workplace is so important. This is where leadership by example makes such a difference, especially given the stigma, unfortunately, we still have around mental health and wellbeing.

The third is when it comes to the kind of policies and structures we put in place, I think people are looking for more during this time than a bigger paycheck. Poll after poll, people are asked, ‘What are you looking for? Why did you quit your job?’ They come back to things like purpose.”

Mental Health Transforms Communities

Bottom line, we couldn’t agree more on Dr. Murthy’s point that we should all aspire to “make the workplace an engine of mental health and wellbeing.” Engaging employees with a shared purpose, mission, and belonging has ripple effects across communities:

“It's not a journey that takes place over night, but it’s one worth embarking on because if workers are happy and healthier, mentally and physically, not only do they do more for the workplace, not only does that contribute to the productivity and retention, but it helps lift up society over all – recognizing that positive mental health in the workplace spills over to the family, the community, and is part of what we really need more than ever right now.”

Mental Health Resources

Mental health is rightfully getting more attention in workplaces than ever before. There are also plenty of resources available for business leaders interested in learning and doing more. Here are a few places to start: