Emotional sustainability: the role of companies in promoting the mental health and happiness of their people

We began this article by asking the following questions:


What, for you, are successful and sustainable organisations? Have you ever thought about the interconnection between the concept of sustainable companies and mental health?


Let’s talk about some numbers:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 15% of adults of working age globally will have a Psychological Health problem at some point (WHO, 2022).

In Portugal, almost two in five people (33%) were affected by the most common Psychological Health problems (stress, depression or anxiety) in the last year due to work, a prevalence above the European Union average (27 %) (Eurobarometer, 2022).

According to the Report on the Cost of Stress and Psychological Health Problems, developed by the Order of Portuguese Psychologists (OPP) in 2022, it is estimated that the loss of productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism (when workers go to work their place of employment, but have an income below their capabilities), caused by stress and Psychological Health problems, can cost Portuguese companies up to €5.3 billion per year – out of curiosity, this is the equivalent of that the government spent in 2021 on measures to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – this amount does not include direct costs, such as those spent on health services, insurance payments, legal problems or payment of fines and compensations.

Given this reality, mental health problems are everyone’s problem, and the active role that companies must take in promoting them among their people is unquestionable. The problems that affect mental health are not unidirectional; mental health influences the way of being and productivity in the workplace, and the workplace impacts mental health.

Saúde mental

Mental health and sustainability


Organisations must take a more humanised view of people and invest in demystifying mental health, raising awareness, taking preventive actions, and building healthy workplaces.

It is at this point that we talk about the sustainability of companies. Although we are all aware of the impact of extreme weather phenomena, the concept of sustainability is much broader. In the companies’ Sustainability Report and the ESG (Environment, Social and Government) Certifications, there is an intentional call for organisations to consciously exercise various sustainability dimensions, including in the Social sphere. At this point, entities must keep a close eye on the well-being of their workers, adapting their organisational policies and practices to promote Psychological Health and addressing topics such as gender balance or equity policies in remuneration.

The success and sustainability of organisations unquestionably depend on demystifying mental health and preventing and promoting psychological health and well-being.


Impact of internal communication on mental health


The value that companies place on internal communication and how they integrate it into organisational culture demonstrates a tangible commitment to the well-being of employees.

Communication can be an ally in protecting people’s mental health at work—a work environment where practical and positive communication can significantly impact employees’ psychological well-being.

When communication is clear and transparent, employees understand expectations and goals, while a lack of information can cause anxiety and stress. This reinforces the importance of feedback in communication and well-being: an environment that promotes constructive feedback can improve people’s self-esteem and provide opportunities for professional growth. Lack of it or negative appreciation with guidance can help self-confidence.

It is known, therefore, that stress, depression or anxiety are the psychological health problems that most affect Portuguese workers, often a consequence, for example, of a stressful work environment, an intense work pace, poor relationships between colleagues/managers, performing tasks that one does not like or that the person feels they do not have skills and the feeling of devaluation.

Having space for communication and sharing, where the employee feels heard and comfortable in sharing their opinions and emotions, and where there is action or feedback from the employer, whenever possible, contributes to building more empathetic teams. In this space, it is essential that managers or the person responsible for this work also can look at the person holistically. In addition to work issues, each human being brings personal experiences that can compromise their performance. Here, companies can take an active role and prevent psychological health problems from worsening.

Cultivating empathetic communication and making communication an integral part of organisational culture will significantly impact how people engage with the company’s mission.

Criteria associated with successful and sustainable organisations


By promoting psychological health and well-being, companies provide primary conditions for work and ensure that people are integrated into their workplaces and society and feel cooperative, productive and fulfilled.

According to the WHO, a Healthy Workplace is one in which all organisation members cooperate to continuously improve processes to protect and promote health, safety and well-being. These places usually have a series of initiatives on their agenda that give them the status of successful and sustainable organisations.

We leave some points that facilitate this statute:

– Develop awareness programs/workshops on mental health, which provide employees and managers with the necessary tools to recognise early signs and offer support. Due to their position, we note that middle management positions are considered a group at significant risk of stress and must have a specific intervention aimed at leadership coaching. A leader with empathetic behaviour will positively influence the behaviour and well-being of the people on their team;

Castro Group Equipa

Hold Corporate Events as moments of relaxation and as a strategy to strengthen bonds, work on interpersonal communication, reduce stress, and promote a healthier work environment. Investing in these activities improves team cohesion and increases motivation and satisfaction at work, positively impacting confidence and mental health.

– Workshops, training, lectures and team-building activities covering stress management, time management, self-esteem, leadership, and communication can offer opportunities for personal and professional growth, contributing to a sense of achievement and satisfaction at work.

Promote a feeling of inclusion in teams. To achieve this, it is essential to have a spirit of mutual help between colleagues and managers. This feeling of belonging to the group automatically promotes well-being and motivation in workers.

Recognising and rewarding is a way of encouraging workers and encouraging continued dedication;

– Define measures to facilitate balance between personal/family and professional life.

Provide psychological support, for example, through health insurance that includes psychology/psychiatry consultations;

To conclude, it is essential to emphasise that, currently, organisations face substantial costs due to a lack of investment in mental health. Prevention, awareness-raising and investment strategies in corporate activities can reverse this trend. By prioritising mental health and integrating it into their sustainable objectives, Portuguese companies can reduce productivity losses by at least 30%, resulting in savings of around 1.6 billion euros annually.

Like most organisations, mental health care is an ethical choice and an intelligent strategy for long-term success in a constantly evolving scenario.


It is supported by this vision that at Castro Group, we invest in our people’s well-being by implementing several of the measures mentioned above. People must be mentally healthy to obtain positive results, be productive, innovate, and create. Therefore, we will continue to develop actions to promote mental health and the happiness of all employees.





Eurobarómetro (2022). OSH Pulse: Occupational safety and health in post-pandemic workplaces. Portugal: Eurobarómetro

Ordem dos Psicologos Portugueses (2022). Custo do Stresse e dos Problemas de Saúde Psicológica no Trabalho, em Portugal.

World Health Organization (2022). World mental health report: transforming mental health for all.

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