Self Care January 11, 2021

Signals #5 - Mental Wellness

Timo Särkkä @timosarkka


I like to research how existing companies can improve their operations by leveraging new trends, tools and paradigm shifts.

Every week I pick a topic and summarize about 30 hours of research into a short report.

Appreciate any feedback on how to improve/make these even more valuable.

The latest report shows how companies can turn proper mental health support into a competitive advantage.

Signals #5 - Mental Wellness



  • Prioritizing mental wellness at workplaces makes both people and the company better off. Mental health support is often valued higher than gym memberships and free meals.

⚙️ Get Started

  • Take care of yourself first. Reducing doomscrolling and phone usage are good first targets. Keep working hours at a sane level. Exercise every now and then. Try to maintain a somewhat balanced diet.

  • Build a culture of connection within your team and company. Check-in regularly with colleagues and employees. Listen thoroughly and carefully, but don't intrude. Understand the real worries beneath the surface.

  • Offer flexibility to easen up the burden. New parents need daycare. Caretakers need fewer hours. Some want to work from different places. Everyone's different, make it inclusive.

  • Provide access to new tools. Ginger offers on-demand mental care remotely. Headspace builds meditation habits. SleepScore tracks recharging at nights. Leverage the wellness app ecosystem.

  • Set an example. The change starts from the top. Share your own experiences, if you have them. Destigmatize mental health issues. As Paul Greenberg puts it: "As soon as you normalize it, other people do too."

🔨 Tools

🚀 Pros

  • Mental health investments on average have 5:1 returns.

    • Proactive cultural change, training and raising awareness yield the best results (6:1 ROI).

    • Reactive therapy is less effective, but still very positive (3:1 ROI).

  • Additional benefits: increased productivity, commitment, engagement, talent acquisition and quality of work.

  • There's a link between the mind and the body. People who feel well tend to look after their physical fitness. On the other hand, movement can arm you against stress.

🚧 Cons

  • Don't settle for reactive or bolt-on wellness programs. Solve problems before they arise. Make wellbeing a core value.

  • The total effect of COVID-19 on mental health is unclear. A long tail of mental health problems could form.

📊 Cases

  • Starbucks offers 20 therapist sessions per year for employees and family members.

  • Zappos' benefits include paid paternity leave, pet adoption and wellness challenges.

  • KKR extended mental health resources to employee families, reimburses 250$ for virtual classes and $300 for improving your home office setup.

  • SAP launched daycare, flextime for parents and a mental health program. Operating profit increased $900M in 5 years.

  • Propellernet invests 5% of monthly profits to a wellbeing fund. They also fulfill one dream each quarter.

🕘 Forecast

  • Stigmas continue to decrease. What was once taboo is now mainstream. Big Tech is trying to help by integrating mental wellness to their apps and services.

  • Depression and anxiety will become more socially acceptable, and it starts with the C-level example. "Hiding breeds shame. Shame is destructive."

  • New services will be increasingly virtual. This is a double-edged sword. Remote services solve distance and time issues but can lack human connection and body language.

📚 Resources

🏆 Takeaways

  • Investing in mental wellness has a real, proven return on investment. And often it's big.

  • Top management has to set the example. Stigma is decreasing, but it's still there. Lead by example, be vulnerable.

  • It's all about the people. Check how they are, listen to their worries, support and provide help when they need it.

I've also done other similar reports in the past weeks:

Signals - #4 Online Training
Signals - #3 Talent Platforms
Signals - #2 Robotic Process Automation
Signals - #1 Hybrid Work

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