The Business Case for Protecting Mental Health in the Workplace: Lessons from Simone Biles

In recent years, mental health has taken center stage in various aspects of society, highlighting the essential need to address it in the workplace. Organizations across the globe have recognized the importance of the mental health of their employees and have taken proactive steps to provide resources, tools, and empathy for those in need. However, employees are still reluctant to use mental health resources provided by their workplaces. For example, although an estimated 20% of the population have a mental health condition, only 8% have utilized their Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). So, why is there such hesitation about tapping into workplace mental health resources or even talking about mental health at work? The answer is simple. Stigma. Despite the overwhelming number of people diagnosed with a mental health condition, there is a perception that you’re unable to work effectively, underperform, or incompetent. Rather than allowing people to address their mental health like they would their physical health, managers often slap a target on those with mental health conditions, eventually leaving them with no choice but to separate from the company. However, this scenario is not good business. It’s bad business.

Simone Biles, a decorated gymnast and one of the most celebrated athletes of our time, made headlines when she decided to step back from competition to prioritize her mental health. Her courageous act drew attention to the pressures individuals face in high-stress environments, including the workplace. Biles’ story resonates with employees across industries who experience similar struggles. This week, Biles made a triumphant return to the sport when she broke records by winning three gold medals at the U.N. Nationals. Prioritizing her mental well-being underscores the essential link between mental health and performance. Her triumphant return solidifies promoting and protecting mental health in the workplace, optimizes performance, and results in better business outcomes.

Here are the critical lessons learned from Simone Biles’s mental health journey.

Put your health over wealth. This is not just a lesson for individual contributors but also for organizational leaders. When organizations don’t address toxic work environments, they not only put themselves in legal liability but also stand to lose top performers.

Many mental health conditions can manifest as physical illnesses. If you don’t take care of your mental health, this can result in severe physical illnesses, which can become life-threatening.

Work-life harmony is crucial to your and your team’s success. Organizational leaders should encourage their teams to take their PTO and schedule time during their day to engage in activities that support their mental well-being. Individual contributors should place boundaries around their time to ensure they are allowed space to regroup, rethink, and revitalize.

As organizations continue to evolve, it’s crucial to recognize that promoting mental health isn’t just a matter of empathy; it’s a wise business decision that empowers employees to perform at their best and thrive within the workplace.

Are you convinced how important it is to protect and promote your organization’s mental health, including your own? We’d like to help you design, implement, and evaluate your workplace mental health strategy. Contact The Natasha Bowman Consulting Group today to learn more about our services, including:

Visit The Natasha Bowman Consulting Group today or email us at

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