Early Symptom Intervention

Mental Health Benefits of Musculoskeletal Solutions in the Workplace

Explore the mental health implications of musculoskeletal solutions in the workplace. Read on for practical tips for application and implementation.


Mental Health Benefits of Musculoskeletal Solutions in the Workplace

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a growing issue in the modern workplace, increasingly so after the pandemic, affecting millions of workers' physical, mental, and behavioral health worldwide. MSDs can cause chronic pain, limited mobility, and prolonged absence from work. These can be devastating to an employee's mental health, as they may feel like their performance is falling behind, their profession is in jeopardy, and their quality of life is suffering. According to Perceptual Med, when an athlete experiences an injury, they are often faced with psychological and behavioral issues, 1 in 3 will develop depression, and many will experience symptoms of PTSD even a year after the injury; your Working Athletes are no different.

A growing body of evidence suggests that MSK health solutions such as ergonomic consulting, injury prevention, onsite physical therapy, job-specific health plans, and industrial sports medicine can positively impact mental health in the workplace. Unfortunately, according to a study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, roughly 85% of employees' mental health conditions are undiagnosed or untreated. Because of this, safety managers, HR managers, office managers, supervisors, and CEOs should be aware of the impact mental health issues can have on their workforce and how enrollment in onsite and digital MSK solutions can be used to improve employee well-being

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, here are some staggering statistics about mental health effects on the workplace:

  • Mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year.​

  • 76% of full-time US employees reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year—a 29% increase from 2019.​

  • Absenteeism - Employees reported missing an average of 8 days of work in the past year due to mental health issues— an 85% increase from 2019 (4.3 days).​

  • Presenteeism - On average, employees report performing at 72% of their full capability in the past year when considering their mental health.

By addressing MSK conditions in the workplace, businesses can create a safer and healthier environment for their employees and reduce the prevalence of harmful effects on their workforce.

How musculoskeletal conditions in the workplace affect mental health

MSDs are particularly common among manual workers, from construction workers to factory workers, but are also prevalent in office settings. In many cases, poor ergonomics, unsafe working environments, and inadequate safety measures can contribute to developing MSDs. Unfortunately, workers may be reluctant to speak out about their issues due to embarrassment, guilt, or fear of repercussions, leading to unnecessary suffering. In addition, studies have shown that workplace injuries can lead to increased stress and decreased productivity, which impact mental health. As a result, employers must create an environment and culture where workers are comfortable discussing their issues and working proactively to mitigate potential dangers.

Enhancing workplace safety and ergonomics by providing job-specific and evidence-based MSK injury prevention training from experienced providers, such as athletic trainers and physical therapists, can go a long way toward preventing mental health issues due to workplace injuries. Chronic conditions such as repetitive overuse injuries (ie. general low back pain, knee pain, and other joint pains), and muscle strains, among others, need to be taken seriously not only for the physical well-being of the workers but for their mental health as well. Employers who invest time and resources into proactive MSK injury prevention strategies can avoid expensive long-term costs associated with mental health challenges posed by an unhealthy work environment.


How to identify mental health issues associated with musculoskeletal disorders

In addition to physical pain, MSDs can cause various mental health issues. For example, in some cases, workers may feel anxious or depressed due to their pain and the disruption it can cause in their professional aspirations. Similarly, they may experience social issues due to decreased mobility and reduced involvement in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. Additionally, the financial burden of medical treatment and extended absence from work can cause considerable stress. Therefore, both the employee and the employer need to know what to watch out for to make sure mental health issues are appropriately and swiftly identified and addressed.

Here are some external warning signs of distress for employers to be aware of:

  • Changes in mood or personality ​

  • Changes in eating patterns​

  • Withdrawal from co-workers​​

  • Decreased productivity​

  • Increased absenteeism and tardiness​

  • Extended breaks, early departure​

  • Missed deadlines​

  • Acting recklessly or engaging in unsafe behaviors​

Here are some internal warning signs of distress for employees to be aware of:

  • Substance and opioid abuse or increased use​

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Feelings of guilt ​

  • Changes in sleeping patterns

  • Financial problems

  • Long periods of "blues"​

  • Thoughts of suicide​

  • Hopelessness – no reason for living​

  • Life changes-divorce or relationship status​

  • Rage, anger, seeking revenge​

All these added stressors can be exacerbated by musculoskeletal pain and can cause an inability to focus and decreased performance at work, resulting in reduced productivity and ultimately affecting employee retention and job satisfaction. Therefore, employers need to understand the effects of MSK issues on mental health so they can anticipate challenges that their employees may face and establish specific measures that could reduce the impact of these disorders on individuals in the workplace.

Direct and indirect benefits of implementing musculoskeletal solutions in the workplace

Implementing MSK solutions in the workplace, directly and indirectly, benefits businesses and employees. Companies can benefit from a direct financial return on investment through increased productivity, higher employee retention rates, increased job satisfaction, decreased healthcare costs, and decreased insurance premiums. Furthermore, they could decrease OSHA recordable injuries and reduce Workers' Compensation claims, consequently providing an overall healthier working environment for their employees. Direct effects on employees include improved physical health and mental well-being, which employers recognize and value. Additionally, companies prioritizing ergonomics and pain management are more likely to attract and retain top talent as candidates increasingly recognize these MSK solutions as key company benefits. All in all, companies investing in MSK care will benefit from both direct and indirect returns. 


Example of a musculoskeletal solution that can improve workforce mental health

An example of a musculoskeletal solution that employers can implement is a workplace physical conditioning and exercise program, such as the Briotix Health PRO Fit program (part of the Industrial Sports Medicine suite). When companies aid and communicate with their employees that physical and mental wellness is being prioritized, workplace culture and employees' mental health can be improved by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. 

Employers don't have to sacrifice valuable working hours to allow their employees the opportunity to get the blood flow pumping, either. Multiple studies have shown that accumulating exercise in short bouts of at least 10 minutes of activity over the day produces similar effects on various health-related outcomes compared with performing the same routine all at once. Employers can also maximize efficiency by encouraging short bouts of group exercise.

Employers who encourage regular exercise can benefit from these health advantages:

  • Stress relief​

  • Improvement in mood​

  • Increased energy and stamina​

  • Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness​

Benefits of group exercise in the workplace:

  • Encourage motivation and inspiration

  • Real-time accountability on proper form, which helps prevent injury​

  • Increases community culture

  • Adds variety to employees' workday



Case studies of companies who have implemented musculoskeletal solutions with positive results

Numerous studies have demonstrated the tangible benefits of musculoskeletal solutions in modern businesses. Companies that take the time to research and implement musculoskeletal initiatives have been able to realize impressive cost savings compared to companies that don't use these solutions. In addition, these case studies provide valuable insight into how companies can save money while improving employee satisfaction, safety, and productivity with thoughtful musculoskeletal solutions. Investing in such solutions is wise for any business looking to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and create a healthier work environment.

Tips for choosing the right musculoskeletal solution for your workplace

Briotix Health provides high-quality, repeatable, reliable, holistic, and proven solutions to help employers safely and effectively assess musculoskeletal health while identifying workplace risks. Briotix Health has a portfolio of in-person and digital care models to provide the right fit for any workplace need. Whether it's managing in-person or virtual ergonomic assessments, onsite physical therapy, or engaging the entire organization in a culture of care, we recommend comparing Briotix Health to other musculoskeletal interventions available, ensuring their solutions can meet your individual needs. Briotix Health is committed to providing the best possible solutions for employers and ensuring long-term musculoskeletal health for all employees, both now and in the future.


Ultimately, it is the employer's responsibility to create a safe and supportive working environment where employees can discuss issues without fear of repercussions. Treating MSDs with the seriousness they deserve and providing necessary support is essential in helping maintain the mental health of employees with MSK pain, both at work and at home. Employers can reap the rewards of an engaged and motivated workforce by ensuring that workers can stay safe, productive, and healthy. Briotix Health offers comprehensive musculoskeletal programs tailored to fit the needs of any workplace. Our team of experts can level up your current program or help you create a new one from scratch. To learn more about how Briotix Health can level up your musculoskeletal health programsconnect with a Solutions Advisor and receive a customized solution.



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