Wellness is one of today’s most important workplace trends. Companies and flexible workspace operators are constantly seeking ways in which they can contribute to their members’ overall well-being. We’ve seen the rise of the Fitwel Certification and WELL Building Standard, we’ve seen operators incorporating yoga and meditation rooms, among others. Most recently, we’ve seen how reducing loneliness has become one of the core value propositions of coworking spaces.

We are slowly seeing an increasing focus on addressing mental health in the workplace. Companies, operators, designers, and architects are thinking about ways in which the built environment affects our mental state and the amenities and services that can help us achieve an optimal state of well-being.

However, there is much more that can be done to actively promote mental health in the workplace.

Liz Elam, Founder and Executive Director of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, stated this year during the New York conference that “we have a loneliness epidemic, and we cannot just build a meditation room; we need to be more real about this, we need to address mental health.” Elam, together with Iris Kavanagh and Cat Johnson created CheckYoMate, a movement aimed at dismantling loneliness and destigmatizing mental illness in the coworking community.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states it this way: “Work affects a person’s mental health, while in turn an employee’s mental health affects the workplace.” The takeaway here is that there is an opportunity to improve our working environments by helping people cope.

“At any given time, 450 million people are suffering from some form of mental or brain disorder. In order of prevalence, 121 million people suffer from depression, 70 million from alcohol-related problems, 50 million from epilepsy, 37 million from Alzheimer’s disease and 24 million from schizophrenia (World Health Organization, 2001). Between 10 and 20 million people around the world have attempted suicide, with an estimated 815 000 people committing suicide each year (World Health Organization, 2002).”

Additional Mental Health at Work Facts

  • One in four americans say work is a source of anxiety
  • Depression is directly linked to a loss of productivity
  • Half of employees with anxiety say it interferes with coworker relationships
  • Only one in four employees with anxiety tell employers
  • Depression costs employers more than other health conditions
  • 3.5 percent of workers have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Depressed employees lose 27 work days per year
  • Four in five workers report poor work-life balance

Moreover, “in addition to the obvious suffering caused by mental disorders there is a hidden burden of stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations.”


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