Deep Care logo white
Deep Care Logo

Mental health - how to reduce mental stress and increase well-being in the workplace

April 29, 2024
Flowers symbolise mental health in the workplace

In order to promote mental health in the workplace, it is important to recognise the causes of mental stress and take appropriate measures. This includes: regular and open communication on this topic, promoting a healthy working environment, implementing measures to prevent stress and achieve a healthy work-life balance, as well as many other measures. Only companies that focus on the mental health of their employees can be productive and successful in the long term.

Mental health in the workplace is increasingly at risk

Reasons for mental stress in the workplace

Carrying out the psychological risk assessment as a legal requirement

What happens if the GB-Psych is not observed?

Benefits of promoting mental health in the workplace

Measures to promote mental health in the workplace

Conclusion

"Mental illnesses currently account for around 15 per cent of all sick days and are therefore the third most common cause of incapacity for work in Germany."

Mental health in the workplace is increasingly at risk

In today's working world, stress, pressure and high demands are omnipresent, making mental health issues increasingly visible for companies. Mental stress caused by the working environment is having an increasing impact on the performance and well-being of employees.

In recent years, the number of sick days due to mental illness has increased. According to DAK Gesundheit, the volume of work incapacity due to mental diagnoses has risen by 48 per cent in the last decade. 

Days absent due to mental illness

Reasons for mental stress in the workplace

Mental stress at work is a major problem nowadays, which can affect both the health of employees and the productivity of the company. A variety of factors can lead to overload, which are explained in more detail in the following article.

Stressed employee at work
  • High workload and work pressure:
    A common cause of depression and anxiety disorders is too much pressure at work. This can be caused by unrealistic work targets, tight deadlines, overtime or an excessive workload. In the long term, stress and excessive demands lead to absenteeism or even burnout.
  • Lack of support:
    A lack of support from colleagues, superiors or management can also lead to mental stress. Employees need clear communication, feedback and resources to complete their tasks effectively. The lack of this support can lead to frustration and a feeling of helplessness.
  • Conflicts in the workplace:
    Conflicts with colleagues, superiors or customers can also pose a risk. A poor working atmosphere and unresolved conflicts contribute to employees feeling unwell, their performance is impaired and the quality of work suffers.
  • Insufficient work-life balance:
    A poor work-life balance can lead to chronic stress and mental illness. Companies that do not offer flexible working time models or opportunities to reconcile work and private life jeopardise the health of their employees enormously. 
  • Unfulfilled expectations:
    If expectations regarding career development, recognition or remuneration are not met, the susceptibility to psychological stress increases. The feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction can have a negative impact on the well-being and performance of employees and negatively affect the success of the company in the long term.
Law for psychological risk assessment

Carrying out the psychological risk assessment as a legal requirement

The so-called GB-Psych is an important process which, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be carried out by companies in Germany. This means that not only is the conventional risk assessment mandatory, but since 2013 employers have been obliged to carry out a risk assessment in accordance with § Section 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) The company is obliged to carry out an assessment that also includes psychological risk factors.

This process involves identifying and assessing psychological risk factors in the workplace in order to ensure health and safety. The contents of the so-called GB-Psych are the analysis of work processes, working environment and social interactions in order to identify potential stress factors.

Companies must pay attention to various points during the implementation process. These include the involvement of employees, the use of suitable methods to record potential stressors, the regular review and updating of the assessment and the implementation of measures to reduce the identified risks.

What happens if the GB-Psych is not observed?

Let's take a closer look at the consequences of non-compliance with a GB Psych.

If a company neglects the GB-Psych, this can Serious legal consequences have.

If a risk assessment is not carried out, the obligation to do so is first pointed out. Non-compliance can subsequently be penalised. Monitoring is the responsibility of the labour inspectorates, employers' liability insurance associations and other supervisory authorities.

Employees could assert claims for damages and the employer could be held liable by the statutory accident insurance. In addition, negligence in labour court proceedings could lead to considerable disadvantages and high costs for the employer.

But why exactly is mental health in the workplace so important, especially for the company? You will find the answers in the following section.

Benefits of promoting mental health in the workplace

Health in the world of work should be considered holistically and not only be focussed on physical health. Mental health measures are crucial for several reasons:

  1. The Productivity and performance of a company is closely linked to the well-being of its employees. Healthy and motivated employees are able to perform their tasks more effectively and develop innovative solutions. A positive attitude and mental state fosters creativity and team spirit, which in turn has a positive impact on the overall performance of the organisation and promotes better, new quality.
  2. Costs can be significantly reducedif the mental strain on employees is reduced. High levels of stress lead to increased absenteeism, which can result in costs for continued remuneration, replacement staff and even machine breakdowns. Most requests for early retirement are due to mental illness, which can lead to long-term financial burdens for the company. 

    It is estimated that around €2,300 per employee is incurred annually for days lost due to mental illness. 
  3. The Employee loyalty to the company is strengthened. If the employer takes care of the mental well-being of employees, they feel valued and remain loyal to the company for longer. This reduces the costs associated with staff turnover for training and recruiting new employees.
  4. The Employees' basic trust in the company is promoted. When employees feel that the company cares about their health, they develop a deeper trust in the organisation and employees are always willing to give their best.
  5. This results in a Improving the quality of work and the company's results. This is reflected in figures such as a reduced sickness rate, higher employee satisfaction, increased turnover and overall higher productivity in the workplace.

Overall, promoting mental health in the workplace is not only an ethical obligation, but also a strategic investment that strengthens a company's efficiency and competitiveness in the long term.

Measures to promote mental health in the workplace

At a time when there is a growing awareness of the importance of mental and emotional health in the workplace, it is crucial that organisations take proactive measures to support the health and wellbeing of their employees. 

The following measures should be an integral part of workplace health promotion in order to promote or maintain the mental health of the workforce.

Open communication: An open approach to the topic creates an atmosphere of trust and support. By regularly mentioning it in internal communication and offering information materials, employees can be encouraged to openly address their challenges and problems in the workplace and take action.

Offers from the field of mental health: For example, companies can provide virtual mental health coaching, therapy services, helplines and support during difficult phases of life. These resources enable employees to seek help when needed and feel supported.

Workshop for mental health in the workplace

Targeted events and training courses: Regular seminars, workshops and events offer employees the opportunity for further training, dialogue and personal development. Customised offers can help to address the needs of employees and provide them with practical tools for dealing with stress.

Team building and appreciation: Team-building measures and training to promote respectful behaviour help to strengthen the sense of togetherness within the team and resolve conflicts constructively. Regular team events promote interdisciplinary dialogue and well-being in the workplace, which is becoming increasingly important.

Minimisation of the workload: Targeted measures can reduce the workload so that employees feel less stress. One possibility, for example, would be to avoid unnecessary emails or CC mailings. 

Management training: Managers should be sensitised to recognising the needs of their employees and have appropriate communication and action options at their disposal. Training in the area of healthy leadership helps them to recognise early signs of mental health problems, seek dialogue and take supportive measures.

Work-life balance: Flexible working time models, clear company break regulations and limits on overtime help to promote a healthy work-life balance. By giving employees the opportunity to organise their working hours flexibly, they can achieve a better work-life balance.

Running group for more exercise

Offers for physical fitness: Sports courses, running groups, yoga or Movement exercises directly at the workplace offer employees opportunities for physical activity and stress management. Varied programmes that are tailored to the needs of employees boost motivation and reduce days of incapacity for work.

Feedback and exchange: Regular feedback, employee appraisals and satisfaction surveys enable the company to analyse the mood and feelings of the workforce and respond specifically to their needs. 

Further development opportunities: By promoting personal and professional development, companies show their employees their appreciation and support them in developing their skills and expanding or maintaining relevant knowledge for their position.

room for manoeuvre and flexibility: Employees should have a say and enjoy a certain degree of freedom in their actions. Flexible working time models and the opportunity to organise their work autonomously promote a sense of control and satisfaction.

Job security: The offer of permanent contracts and protection against dismissal gives employees a sense of stability and security. The fear of losing your job can cause considerable stress, which has a negative impact on your own mental health.

Fair remuneration: Fair and appropriate remuneration is crucial to minimise financial worries and reduce stress. Employees should feel that they are fairly remunerated for their work so that they can concentrate fully on their tasks.

Raising awareness of bullying: Companies should sensitise their employees to the issue of bullying and define clear guidelines for prevention and intervention. Appointing a bullying officer can help to recognise cases of bullying at an early stage and respond appropriately.

Addiction prevention measures: Companies can offer addiction prevention programmes and support services to help employees maintain healthy lifestyles and identify addiction problems at an early stage and take preventative action.

Stress management workshops and training courses: Stress management workshops offer practical tools and strategies for coping with chronic stress in the workplace. Through training on topics such as time management, mindfulness, relaxation techniques and conflict resolution, employees can learn to deal with stressors more effectively and strengthen their resilience.

Exemplify mental health as a corporate value: By establishing the importance of mental health as a core corporate value and integrating it into the corporate culture, companies create a culture of well-being and support. By integrating an internal portal for mental health, for example, the company can emphasise the importance and promote exchange.

ISA as a platform for BGF, mental health and occupational safety

Stress prevention through AI: The latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art sensor technology can help to recognise stress at an early stage. For example, if the system recognises an increased stress level at certain times, this can be counteracted in a targeted manner before a mental illness develops. 

    Conclusion

    By firmly integrating these measures to promote the holistic health of their employees into their health management, companies can not only improve the well-being of their workforce, but also benefit in the long term from increased performance, lower sickness rates and greater employee loyalty.

    Mental health promotion has become an integral part of today's working world and should no longer be seen as a "nice to have", but should be an integral part of occupational health management.

    Stay informed ...

    DeepDive BGM

    Receive our latest monthly blogs and carefully curated articles on workplace prevention.

    Stay up to date