Good mental health at work


Work can have a positive impact on mental health. In addition to providing income, employment promotes social interaction and develops skills and self-esteem

However, working conditions and contexts are not always conducive to maintaining good mental health. Work-related mental-health issues or their symptoms significantly affect the quality of life and functioning of individuals. Therefore, they can lead to one or more of the following consequences in the workplace:

  • Absenteeism, meaning the employee often takes time off work;
  • Presenteeism, meaning the employee goes to work but is not fully productive;
  • The employee resigns due to difficulties experienced at work.

Work-related mental illness

Anxiety disorders and depression are among the most common mental illnesses in the general population. They are also the most frequently observed mental disorders in the workplace. Burnout is also frequently observed. However, burnout is not officially identified as a mental disorder. Rather, it is the result of chronic work-related stress.

Risk factors

Some risk factors related to working conditions can lead to the development of certain mental illnesses or associated symptoms:

  • Job insecurity, meaning that there is no guarantee of keeping one’s employment;
  • Lack of precision in instructions and mandates;
  • Work overload;
  • Lack of support and recognition;
  • Lack of autonomy at work;
  • Lack of communication and information;
  • Employer is not open to considering measures for work-life balance;
  • Strained workplace relationships and the presence of conflicts;
  • Psychological harassment.

Certain personal, social and economic elements can also be risk factors. As such, personal or family difficulties and financial problems, combined with work requirements, can sometimes have a negative impact on the mental health of some people. Such individuals can experience a high level of stress, temporary psychological distress or adjustment problems, develop a mental disorder or the symptoms associated with it.

To learn more about the risk factors of mental illness, read the About mental disorders page.

Aggravating factors

Prejudice, stigma, and discrimination associated with mental illness can worsen the suffering of people, particularly those who are reluctant to seek help.

For more information, read the Fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness page.

Tips for good mental health at work

You can maintain good mental health at work and prevent symptoms of mental illness.

  • Take the entire duration of the breaks allowed by your work schedule.
  • Participate in any programs on wellness or how to organize work time, if they are offered in your workplace.
  • Set aside time for social and friendly gatherings with colleagues.
  • Seek support from colleagues during periods of stress or more intense work.
  • Apply the tips for Maintaining good mental health.
  • Avoid resorting to alcohol and drugs to manage work-related stress.
  • If you think you are being treated unfairly, talk about it with your employer, your supervisor, your union representative or someone you trust.
  • If necessary, seek help from a health professional. You can also contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if one is available at your workplace.
  • If necessary, get informed or consult a resource that can support or help you.

Adapting to teleworking

Teleworking is a new reality that requires adaptation. Here are some tips that will help you maintain good mental health when working remotely:

  • Set up a comfortable space in your home that you only use for work. 
  • Take breaks to relax, and stay active. Go outside.
  • Take meal breaks.
  • Maintain daily contact with colleagues. There are plenty of tools at your disposal like the telephone, video calls, email and the Web or online chat rooms.
  • Always salute the efforts and victories of your workmates. Remember: they also need to adapt to the new reality.
  • Be indulgent to yourself and your workmates. Some days will be less productive than others.

Help and resources

The sooner a person seeks help when initial symptoms of mental illness appear, the greater the prospects for recovery. To learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and know when to seek help, read the page About mental disorders.

To find information and support resources, or to obtain treatment or services for you or a loved one, see the page Finding help and support for mental health.

If you are thinking about suicide and fear for your safety or that of those around you, read the page Recognizing signs of distress and preventing suicide. It includes information on the help and resources available.

Last update: February 21, 2023


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