The Importance of good mental health in the workplace and how to promote it

Published 2024-04-23 14:48:56
Yoga pose image - Image by Anil sharma from Pixabay

This article explores the growing importance of good mental health in the workplace and how companies can create a culture that supports employee wellbeing.

In the early 1980s, Japan faced a surge in stress-related illnesses as cities rapidly expanded. Their response? "Shinrin Yoku," which translates to "forest bathing" – spending time immersed in nature. This practice aimed to combat "Karoshi" (death from overwork) by reducing stress and boosting immunity.

The science behind forest bathing

The concept of forest bathing emerged in response to the stressful urbanization of Japan in the 1980s, aiming to counteract "Karoshi," or overwork death. Japanese government studies confirmed the benefits of Shinrin Yoku. Participants showed lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and improved moods. Exposure to "phytoncides," essential oils released by trees, increased "Natural Killer" cells crucial for fighting viruses and tumours. Forest bathing not only improved mental well-being but also physical health for Japanese office workers.

Why don't we embrace this everywhere?

Similar practices exist worldwide – "Waldbaden" (forest bathing) in Germany and the concept of "Waldeinsamkeit" (feeling alone in the woods).

However, a ‘Mind Health Index’ recent study revealed a worrying trend: 41% of respondents reported struggling mental health, with younger people and women particularly affected. The study also highlighted the critical role of workplace mental health support. However, companies that prioritize mental health support witness flourishing employees who are more productive and less likely to leave their jobs.

Wellbeing as an employer value proposition (EVP)

Today, employee wellbeing schemes are becoming a key part of an attractive Employer Value Proposition (EVP) alongside health insurance and gym memberships. A strong EVP aligns with a company's values and attracts talent. For instance, a European broadcaster recently emphasised embedding wellbeing at all levels to create a "holistic practice."

However, some companies fail to align their actions with their stated values, which can affect employee trust and retention.

The generational shift and mental health

Understanding the preferences of different generations is essential. By 2025, Gen Z will be a significant portion of the workforce. This generation expects authenticity and purpose from their employers.

They value companies with strong social impact and those that share their values. Companies must energize their culture with wellness, flexibility, and transparency to attract and retain talent. Creating a supportive culture requires leadership to be vulnerable, showing strength in seeking help. Encouraging employees to prioritize their personal lives and being proactive in providing support resources are also crucial steps.

A recent report highlights Gen Z's openness to discussing mental health concerns. Companies that fail to prioritize genuine employee wellbeing risk losing trust and missing out on top talent. A recent newsletter from a UK brand agency highlighted that numerous global businesses are now rejecting flexible working, delivering strict messages to their employees.

Building a culture of wellbeing

Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500 (a disability inclusion initiative), offers practical tips to create a culture that supports wellbeing:

  • Vulnerability: Normalize asking for help by sharing your own struggles. This encourages others to do the same.
  • Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to prioritize their personal lives. Leave work on time for childcare, gym sessions, or simply personal time.
  • Awareness: Be familiar with available mental health resources and proactively share them with your team. Be observant and offer support to struggling employees.

Creating a trustworthy EVP

Creating a supportive culture requires leadership to be vulnerable, showing strength in seeking help. Encouraging employees to prioritize their personal lives and being proactive in providing support resources are also crucial steps.

An authentic EVP that prioritizes well-being can earn employees' trust and enhance business success. Consultants can help align company values with EVP to attract top talent.


While Shinrin Yoku may not be feasible for everyone, the core message is clear: prioritize mental health in the workplace. Incorporating practices like forest bathing into workplace well-being initiatives can further enhance employees' mental health. Additionally, embracing concepts like "komorebi," which describes sunlight filtering through trees, can deepen the connection with nature and promote well-being. By creating a supportive culture and aligning your EVP with your values, you can build a successful and thriving business with happy and healthy employees.

This article has been published with the help of AGS. For over 10 years, AGS has chosen to communicate about its international services and offers. You can find more information and request a free quote with the link below.

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Author: EasyExpat
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