Best practices in developing a
mental health strategic plan

How to use this playbook

There’s a lot of information out there about mental health—and that’s great. Mental health is an important part of any organization’s well-being strategy. However, not every organization has the bandwidth to track down reliable best practices to implement their own strategy. That’s why we created this playbook.

The Mental Health Playbook is a self-service tool. You can use it as a guide for the mental health dimension of your well-being strategy. You’ll find tips for developing a business case for your program, followed by a four step process to put it into action. Each of the four steps includes an aggregate of online resources for both employers and employees.

Developing the business case for mental health

Mental well-being is about feeling able to cope with the challenges of life. Organizations can support the spectrum of mental well-being in their workforce by building an environment free from stigma around behavioral health concerns. Use the prompts below to identify the why, what, and how of your strategy that can support your organization’s business priorities.

Ask why

Why focus on mental health?

Potential strategy drivers

Define What

What opportunities exist to support the mental well-being of employees?

Potential opportunities

  • The organization’s overall culture of worksite mental health
  • The level of access employees have to evidence-based behavioral health care
  • What company policies are in place (FMLA, sabbatical, use of PTO, flexible scheduling, parental leave, workers’ comp, etc.)
  • The professional development offered to managers and supervisors to provide support
  • How EAP data and critical incidence response strategies are utilized

Decide How

How will mental health and well-being be improved?

Potential tactics to improve mental health

  • Create a supportive, caring, and inclusive workplace culture that meets the needs of a diverse workforce
  • Focus on whole person well-being in company policies
  • Mitigate organizational stress to prevent burnout
  • Offer programs on mindfulness, resilience, and stress management
  • Provide mental health training to human resources, managers, and supervisors
  • Reduce the stigma about mental health by becoming a StigmaFree Company

Four steps for developing a strategic mental health plan

Click a step to jump to the specified section

National mental health resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis, connect them to appropriate care. Below is a list of resources including websites, helplines and in-person supports:


  • Call 911
    Ask for a mental health support team if appropriate
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1 800 273 8255
    1 888 628 9454 (Spanish)
    For TTY users, dial 711, then 1 800 273 8255
  • Crisis Text Line 
    Text NAMI to 741741
  • Veterans Crisis Line 
    1 800 273 8255 or
    Crisis chat text: 838255
  • Disaster Distress Helpline
    1 800 985 5990 call or text (press 2 for Spanish)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    1 800 799 7233
  • National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline
    1 800 656 4673
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
    1 800 422 4453
  • Trans Lifeline
    1 877 565 8860
  • Trevor Line (crisis for LGBT youth) 
    1 800 850 8078

Connect with a health care provider for mental health recovery or treatment for substance use:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
    1 800 662 4357
    Teletype: 1 800 487 4889
  • Eldercare Locator
    1 800 677 1116
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline
    1 800 950 6264
  • (work related mental health challenges)
    Text HELLO to 510 674 1414
  • National Eating Disorders Helpline
    1 800 931 2237, call or text
  • GLBT National Youth Talkline
    1 800 246 7743

Family Support Groups

  • NAMI Family Support Groups
    Call NAMI Helpline
    800 950 6264
  • Al-Anon Family Groups 
    1 888 425 2666
  • AlaTeen Support Groups
    1 888 425 2666
  • Codependents Anonymous (CoDa) 
    1 888 444 2359


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