How Mental Illness Can Affect Office Productivity—And What You Can Do About It

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As a business owner or entrepreneur, you know that a productive team is a successful team. But what happens when one or more team members are dealing with mental illness? Mental illness can significantly impact productivity in the workplace, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the effects and create a supportive environment for all your employees.

Mental Illness in the U.S.

Mental illness is a natural and severe issue affecting millions worldwide. One in five adults in the United States will experience mental illness this year. And while mental illness can take many forms, some of the most common include anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Mental Illness in the Workplace

There are several ways that mental illness can affect productivity in the workplace. Here are some of those ways:


If you’re a startup, there’s a good chance that you have not yet implemented a formal leave policy. However, even without official time off for mental health, employees may still need to take time off for appointments or emergencies related to their mental illness. This can lead to absenteeism and reduced productivity in the long run.

Difficulty focusing and completing tasks

Mental illness can also affect an employee’s ability to focus and complete tasks effectively. This can contribute to missed deadlines and lower-quality work.

Decreased motivation and engagement

Mental illness can impact motivation levels and overall job satisfaction, leading to decreased engagement in the workplace.


Sometimes, certain employees with mental illness can struggle with communication and social interaction. This can result in conflicts with coworkers or clients and affect team dynamics.

Decreased Revenue

Lastly, one of the most obvious ways that mental illness can affect workplace productivity is through a decrease in overall revenue for the company.

An employee experiencing severe depression

What Can You Do?

Of course, it’s important to remember that every employee is different—so not every person with mental illness will experience the same symptoms or challenges in the workplace. But if you suspect that one or more members of your team are struggling with mental illness, there are steps you can take to help them (and the rest of your team) be as productive as possible.

Offer Flexibility

One of the best things you can do for an employee with mental illness is to offer flexibility in terms of both hours and workload. For example, struggling employees may need to adjust their hours to attend therapy appointments or take medication at specific times of the day. They may also need to scale back their workload, so they don’t become overwhelmed. Allowing employees to make these kinds of adjustments can go a long way in helping them stay productive.

Encourage Openness

It can be difficult for employees to talk about mental health in the workplace—but it’s important to encourage openness so that employees feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns they might have. Let your team know you’re open to talking about mental health and create an environment where employees feel like they can speak up if they’re struggling. You might also consider offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which provide confidential counseling services for employees dealing with personal or work-related issues.

Offer Therapy Options

Thankfully, there are also existing therapy options for employees experiencing mental illness. Here are some great therapy options you can provide to your team members.

Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine is a new, FDA-approved treatment for depression and anxiety that has shown promising results in clinical trials. It can be administered in a clinic or office setting, making it a convenient therapy option for busy professionals. However, you still need to partner with a local ketamine clinic if you want to offer this option to your employees. The clinic can help you find a qualified provider to administer the therapy and handle insurance claims.


For employees who have trouble finding time for therapy appointments, teletherapy (also known as online therapy or virtual therapy) can be a good option. Through video conferencing, therapists can provide services remotely and schedule appointments at times convenient for the patient.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a popular talk therapy aimed at helping patients identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors. It’s often used to treat anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health conditions.

Create a Supportive Environment

Finally, one of the most important things you can do is create a supportive environment for all your employees—regardless of whether they’re dealing with mental illness. Show your team members that you care about them as people, not just workers; get to know them personally and show genuine interest in their lives outside work. When your employees feel like they’re part of a supportive community, they’ll be more likely to thrive—personally and professionally.

Mental illness is a real and serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide—and it can have a significant impact on productivity in the workplace. As a business owner or entrepreneur, it’s essential to be aware of the potential challenges your team might face due to mental illness—and to take steps to mitigate those challenges as much as possible. By offering these options, you can help your team members be productive despite any struggles they might be facing.

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