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Workplace Mental Health

The Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health

Mental Health at Work Matters

Employees want workplaces that are stable, supportive, and less stressful. Employers want employees who are engaged, productive, and loyal. By implementing policies and practices that support employee well-being, employers can achieve the distinct but complementary goals of both employees and the organization.

In recent years, many employers have implemented “workplace wellness” initiatives to attract and retain employees, increase engagement, and reduce health care costs. However, while perks can contribute to wellness, they are only part of a larger set of factors that lead to loyal and engaged employees.

An employer who strives to improve workplace culture, offers generous health insurance and other benefits, and commits to mental health from the top-down can make a considerable impact on the financial, emotional, and social health of its organization. When an employer invests in mental health, it is simply better for employees and better for business.

The Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health

In 2019, MHA launched the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health, a certification program that recognizes employers who are committed to creating mentally healthy workplaces.

With 40 years’ experience in workplace mental health, and expertise from our 2020 Workplace Advisory Board, MHA developed a set of standards to assess an employer’s policies and practices that support employee mental health and well-being. The Bell Seal considers both the 1 in 5 employees who will experience a mental health condition each year and the 5 in 5 employees who benefit from a worker-friendly, highly productive, and psychologically safe workplace.

An organization with Bell Seal certification will be recognized nationwide as a workplace that values mental health and a mentally healthy work environment for all employees. Through the certification process, employers will have the opportunity to learn about the intersection between mental health and the workplace:

  • Attract talent and increase retention;
  • Improve engagement and productivity;
  • Reduce health care costs and lost revenue due to poor workplace mental health;
  • Address concerns with presenteeism;
  • Reduce absenteeism and turnover; and
  • Learn about resources to support employee mental health.

Because all workplaces are different, an employer can aspire to receive recognition at four levels – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

An employer will be assessed—and recognition ultimately determined by—the following five categories:

  1. Workplace Culture
  2. Health Insurance & Other Benefits
  3. Wellness Programs & Perks
  4. Legal Compliance
  5. Leadership & Community Engagement


MHA’s workplace mental health initiatives are driven by emerging research and industry feedback. To continuously improve the Bell Seal standards, MHA brought together a group of national leaders in workplace mental health for the 2020 Workplace Advisory Board. To learn more about our Advisors, please visit here.

2020 Bell Seal Recipients to Date



Application Process

The certification process involves a comprehensive assessment of an employer’s existing policies and practices that impact employee mental health and well-being. 

To begin the application process, complete the following steps:

  1. Submit an employer information form.
  2. MHA will then email you to provide:
    • More information about the application process and
    • Access to the online application form.
  3. Prepare the items requested prior to beginning the online application form.
  4. Complete the online application form via link provided by MHA.
  5. Pay the application fee by check or by credit card online at time of submission.
  6. Receive and discuss results with MHA.

Please see the FAQ below for more information about the certification and application process.



Apply to qualify your workplace for Bell Seal certification by completing the Employer Information Form.

Frequently Asked Questions

What organizations or companies can apply for Bell Seal certification?

Organizations and companies across size and industry are welcome and encouraged to apply.

How do I begin the application process?

To begin the application process, complete the following steps:

  1. Submit an employer information form.
  2. MHA will then email you to provide:
    • More information about the application process and
    • Access to the online application form.
  3. Prepare the items requested prior to beginning the online application form.
  4. Complete the online application form via link provided by MHA.
  5. Pay the application fee by check or by credit card online at time of submission.
  6. Receive and discuss results with MHA.

How long does it take to complete the application process?

Please anticipate the application process to take about 40 hours to complete from start to finish. The amount of time will vary depending on the resources an organization can allocate to the application process.

Is there a deadline for when an organization should submit their application?

MHA is accepting applications on a rolling basis; however, an organization should submit their application by April 15, 2021, if they would like to be recognized at MHA's Annual Conference in June 2021. Organizations who apply after this time will be recognized during the following year's conference.

What is the length of certification?

There is no expiration for certification, but the official Bell Seal certificate and promotion toolkit will be dated with the year in which the organization applies. Organizations who apply during September through December will be certified with the date of the following year.

How should I format the application materials for submission?

Before you begin the online application, please compile all items that best demonstrates the criteria requested into one compressed folder (.zip). Please note that there is a 77 MB file size limit. The folder should be labeled with the name of your organization and date of submission. Please see how the folder should be formatted below:


Evidence of criteria can be any form of documentation including, but not limited to, formal policies, company-wide emails, memos, briefs, newsletters, or meeting agenda or minutes. If you are unsure that an item meets the criteria, please continue to submit the item for review. In some cases, points may still be awarded even if all aspects of criteria have not been met.

Acceptable file formats include Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), and compressed files (.zip) for multiple documents. Please submit only the information that pertains to the question. For example, if a specific policy is requested, only submit the policy text and not the entire handbook that contains the policy.

Will the application materials I submit be kept confidential?

All items or responses submitted with this application will be kept confidential and secure on MHA’s servers, and be used only for the purposes of this application.

How is the application scored?

Your organization’s score, and ultimately, level of certification, is determined by the policies, practices, and programs you submit with your application. The level of certification—Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum—is based on a weighted overall score. Not all workplaces will meet the standards for Bell Seal certification.

When can I expect to see my organization’s results after submitting the application?

After submitting the completed application, please allow 20 to 25 business days to receive the results for your workplace evaluation, including which level of recognition—Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum—the organization qualifies and how the organization scored in each of the five categories.

What fees are associated with applying for certification?

The application fee is determined by the organization’s number of FTEs at the time of application submission. Please complete the employer information form to inquire about the application fees for your organization or company.

As a non-profit organization, all revenue generated by the Bell Seal program is returned to MHA programming and Bell Seal program-related expenses, including staff time to review application materials and help applicants throughout the process.

Does the certification require renewal?

Certification renewal is not required each year. However, an organization may choose to renew their certification if they qualify for a higher-level certification or would like an updated certification date. If an organization chooses to renew their certification, the applicant will review items submitted in prior years for changes and submit any new items for review.

How will MHA publicize/promote organizations who receive Bell Seal certification?

All Bell Seal-certified organizations, at their discretion, will have their logo included on MHA's website landing page for the Bell Seal and be showcased on MHA’s social media platforms. Certified organizations will also receive a promotion toolkit that provides materials to promote the certification among their networks. If an organization applies before April 15, 2021, they will be invited to attend and recognized at MHA's Annual Conference in June 2021.

Why is the certification called the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health?

The Bell Seal is modeled after the MHA Bell of Hope, a symbol of mental health since 1953. Cast from the chains of individuals once locked in state hospitals, the MHA bell resonates deeply with those who care about and support mental health.

MHA will be available to provide assistance throughout the application process. If you have any questions about the Bell Seal or how to apply, please contact Taylor Adams, MHA’s Manager of Workplace Mental Health at


This program is supported through philanthropic contributions from The Faas Foundation.