Prioritizing Mental Wellness in Workplace and College Settings: A Call for Kindness

Prioritizing Mental Wellness in Workplace and College Settings: A Call for Kindness

13 Nov 2019    

Raul A. Palacios II & Dr. Susan M. Swearer

Mental health and wellness in the workplace is a current hot topic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019) report that 1 in every 5 US adults aged 18 or older (18.3% or 44.7 million people) endorsed having a mental illness in 2016. They proposed that by combining medical and behavioral health care services and by addressing mental health concerns in the workplace, employers can significantly reduce health care costs for their business and the people they employ. Some issues that are impacted by poor mental health include poor job performance and conflict with coworkers.

In a recent Forbes article, Dr. Prayga Agarwal discusses the importance of prioritizing kindness in the workplace. In the article, Dr. Agarwal reviewed a study published in the journal of Emotion that studied the relationship between committing and receiving acts of kindness in the workplace and the positive effects (i.e., short-term and long-term) experienced by the participants. The findings from the study found that participants reported increased well-being in both the short-term and the long-term. In addition, participants who were the recipient of kind acts paid their acts of kindness forward with 278% more prosocial behaviors than a control group who did not receive a kindness intervention. The authors suggest that their findings reveal the importance of practicing everyday prosocial acts and the highly positive influence kindness plays in supporting a healthy environment.

This past September, Dr. Swearer participated in a mental health panel hosted by Pinterest. The focus of the Pinterest Women’s Conference was how to promote mental wellness in the workplace. While creating a healthy work environment is a primary goal of many employers, issues such as workplace bullying, mental illness, and outside personal stressors are all major barriers to achieving a balanced lifestyle. During the presentation, the panel discussed ways to identify and address issues related to personal well-being. You can click here to watch the presentation.  

In addition to the workplace, many college campuses across the nation have made student mental health and well-being a primary concern. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Office of Student Affairs created the “Big Red Resilience & Well-Being” initiative. The initiative is focused on providing students with fun events, innovative education, and services to help students understand emotions, manage stress, build strength, connect with others, develop grit, and navigate transitions. If you are a college student, be sure to check in with your student services center to see if they have any similar programs available for you to attend or join.

While prioritizing our own mental health and well-being can be difficult, it is important to take time out of our days to participate in completing acts of kindness for ourselves and for others. Just in time for World Kindness Day (November 13th), below are a few mobile apps and kindness websites for incorporating kindness into your daily routine.  

1) – Read and share stories about kind acts happening across the United States. Sign up for Channel Kindness updates by visiting their website.

2) - Sign up to get involved with BTWF and learn more about how you can help build a kinder, braver world. 

3)    Random Acts of Kindness (RAK): Become a Raktivist (Short for ‘Random Acts of Kindness activist’). Sign up and their website and learn more ways to introduce kind acts into your daily life.

4)    The Kindness App: An app designed to help you become more compassionate to yourself and help increase kindness in the world.

5)    GISH (Global International Scavenger Hunt): Complete designated kindness tasks with a friend and win prizes for completing the kindness tasks.



Agarwal, P. (2019, August 27). Making kindness a priority in the workplace. Retrieved from

Chancellor, J., Margolis, S., Jacobs Bao, K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2018). Everyday prosociality in the workplace: The reinforcing benefits of giving, getting, and glimpsing. Emotion, 18, 507–517. doi:10.1037/emo0000321

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, April 10). Mental health in the workplace. Retrieved from resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html.

Nebraska Bullying Prevention and Intervention Initiative