Making mental health an issue in every workplace

The business target

How to encourage 700 businesses to adopt a new mental health support toolkit at their workplaces?

In recent years, mental health issues have become the most common cause for absences from the workplace, costing the Finnish society 2.5 billion euros a year. Many organisations have been stunned by this development and suffer from a lack of know-how and tools to support their employees’ mental health. Current resources are drained on treatment of urgent problems with little left for preventive support. 

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health set out to battle this trend by identifying a number of research-backed ideas for tools that could help change the course of workplace mental health support. What they were missing was a partner to challenge their thinking from a customer-centric point-of-view and help them turn these initial ideas into a toolbox of desirable and user-friendly tools for the wider audience. 

Above all, we needed to answer these two questions:

How can we make sure that the toolbox responds to real user needs?

How will the solutions be implemented in everyday life of different organisations?

30+ interviews with potential users

Faced with this vast and complex challenge, it was clear we needed all hands-on deck in designing the toolbox. Fortunately, the topic raised much interest and dozens of organisations – both large and small, public and private – signed up to help. The work began with a deep dive into the research behind the tools, together with the leading experts of the Institute.

& project team members developing the tools

involved as partners in early-stage development

working in these organisations

We discovered 3 main factors blocking preventive mental health work at workplaces:

It’s taboo

Even though mental health issues are discussed more and more, it is still a taboo subject at work.

“Not our problem”

Mental health is seen as an individual-level matter rather than as a community issue, not considered in professional context.

Lack of tools

Workplaces lack tools, processes, and resources to do preventive mental health work.

To accomplish the paradigm shift, we need to make sure that the toolbox could:

  • Promote a wider understanding of mental health
  • Create clear ways to operate in preventive ways
  • Bring about cultural change
  • Ensure and increase workplace wellbeing

Concept created together with renowned researchers and user-organisations

The concepts for each of the nine tools were developed through an iterative and collaborative process facilitated by the multidisciplinary Kuudes design team. Researchers and end-users came together to explore alternative ways for preventive mental health support in the workplace.


It was discovered that the toolbox was needed as an entity of tools, rather than using each tool one by one. The concept guided the design of the nine tools and the communications related to the entity.


Clear and compelling tools that are easily adopted at any workplace. We made sure that each of them had a crystallised target group and value proposition, functional and purposeful format, and guidelines for implementation.

Website to reframe the discussion

Concept for and inspiring and educational digital hub of the holistic approach to mental health in the workplace.

See website

Validated together with real-life users




“The Kuudes team executed a holistic and ambitious service design process within a very limited timeframe. I highly appreciate their systematic yet flexible approach to co-creation.”

– Kaisa Mikkola, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

For more information:

Katariina Tikkala
Senior Service Designer
+358 50 564 7697

Illustrations for the client by Ari Niskanen.