Feb 23, 2024
Michelle Fenner

Mind Matters: The Future of Work is Mentally Healthy

Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. I like to add to this Latin saying with the phrase “… and works in a healthy place.” I have no idea what that is in Latin, but it doesn’t change the truth of the statement. Work and the workplace play a crucial role when it comes to people's mental health. Currently, around 15% of absences in companies are due to mental health issues, and this number is rising. Although mental health has gained more attention in recent years, it is evident that a profound transformation of the working world is needed, with more mindfulness, humanity, and empathy.

Curse and Blessing: Changes in the World of Work

The increase in absenteeism due to mental stress is something I see as both positive and negative. Positive, because today more people have the courage to acknowledge their mental illnesses and in many cases seek help. In contrast, mental problems were far more stigmatised in the generation of my parents and grandparents and certainly were not considered a valid reason to stay away from work.

At the same time, the rising number of mental illnesses should serve as an alarm signal and an opportunity to change our working and living ways. We are becoming more productive, mobile, and flexible. While this may sound great at first, it also means the blurring of life boundaries. When work-life balance turns into work-life blending, self-determination quickly becomes self-exploitation. The increasing degree of self-responsibility and the feeling of a continuously more complex world exhaust people today more than ever before. And this doesn’t even take into account the multiple crises that have shaped our lives, especially in recent years.

According to the WHO, one in four people will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. The workplace plays a central role here: overwork, lack of development opportunities, and lack of appreciation can contribute to mental health problems.

The Future is Bright: What the Future of Work Looks Like

Despite all the challenges and obstacles, there are now some young companies that have recognised the need for change and are trying to fill care gaps or provide preventive offers. From mental health apps to virtual therapy platforms to customised prevention programmes, start-ups offer various approaches to promoting the well-being of employees.

Start-ups like Auntie,, selfapy, and MindDoc are not only dispelling prejudices about taboo subjects but also providing important, low-threshold bridging and prevention services. They help overburdened employees who are either about to need therapeutic help or are already waiting for a therapy place. There are even some providers whose digital health applications are state-approved and can be prescribed by health insurance.

Taking Responsibility Together

The need for action is certainly great. Employers must take an active role in promoting the mental health of their employees. Digital mental wellbeing offers, flexible working conditions, or regular training can help, for example. At the same time, politics is required to set the right framework conditions to make improvements possible in the first place. This includes laws and regulations that focus on prevention and protection, as well as tax incentives for companies to implement mental health promotion programmes. As a society, we are called upon to de-stigmatise mental illnesses and break taboos.

Conclusion: On the Way to a Caring Working World

I am very fortunate to have a workplace where mental health is a priority. Not just through benefits and offers, but also through open interaction with each other and an inclusive corporate culture. Every day, I deal with issues related to mental health in my work and support start-ups that promote well-being in the workplace. We highlight positive examples that encourage imitation, raise awareness, and show the significant return on investment for companies that prioritise the mental health of their team.

Together, we are working to create a working world that is not only efficient but also caring. A world that looks not only at productivity but also becomes more humane. Ultimately, the key to sustainable success lies in a healthy and supportive working environment.

Finally, a practical tip for more mental health in the workplace: Office Dogs and Remote Rovers. Pets have been proven to promote health, bring good mood into the office, and encourage their owners to spend their lunch break in the park instead of at their desk.

Let‘s drive your success story.