It’s Time to Get Serious about Employee Mental Health

Mental Health Disconnect

It’s not news that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a multitude of new challenges for employee mental well-being. From an employee stand point, more than 35% reported experiencing symptoms of depression due to the pandemic, while 70% reported the workplace itself to be a source of stress. In addition, research conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence 78% of the employees surveyed said that the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health and 85% reported that newfound work-related stress is affecting their home lives. Employees are increasingly looking to their employers for support with the mental health crisis, as 60% of benefit leaders say employee expectations around mental health support rose over the past year.

The 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey, conducted in October, asked 322 U.S. employers with 100 or more employees about their expectations for 2022. The survey found that 86% of employers list mental health, stress and burnout as top priorities. Employers today are spending over $15,000 on average annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues, according to research from the National Safety Council and NORC at the University of Chicago. That same research found that employers reported a return of $4 for every dollar they invested in mental health treatment. However, it is estimated that 62% of those with mood disorders, 76% with anxiety disorders and 81% with substance use disorders are not receiving treatment. The American Psychiatric Association suggests that more than 50% of those with mental illness do not get help mainly because of stigma, prejudice and discrimination against those with mental illnesses, as well as lack of awareness.

All data confirms that we are very much in a mental health crisis. Luckily, employers are aware of this and are working hard to support employees. However, a large number of employees are not receiving the help they need. This could be due to a number of reasons including unclear communication, accessibility, lack of mental health-specific strategies, etc. That is why it is time to lock down concrete strategies that address mental health in all stages of the employee experience.

The Employee Experience

WELCOA states that the employee experience encompasses one’s entire journey with your organization. It starts before they visit your website or apply for a job and it extends to the day they leave, and sometimes even beyond, through retiree benefits or ongoing personal relationships. When it comes to mental health, it is critical to rethink, re-envision, and retool how organizations provide mental health support in the context of the employee experience. Listed below are steps that WELCOA suggests implementing into your employee experience:

  1. Promote your mental health and well-being resources and tools as part of the employee value proposition
  2. Communicate clearly and consistently across multiple channels so employees are aware of mental health benefits and how to utilize them
  3. Lead by example and set the tone for a positive and supportive working environment
  4. Work to increase the level of mental health literacy across your workforce through flexible and easily accessible mental health training
  5. Support employees to be their best selves and achieve their goals, both personally and professionally
  6. Train leaders and managers so they can develop key skills to support employee mental well-being
  7. Provide support for employee well-being through periods of change, at work and at home, as well as through all stages of life

For more information on employee mental health and creating mental health specific strategies, visit our past blog post!

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