A New Employee Mental Health Model
Nick Taylor Ph.D is the CEO and co-founder of Unmind, the authoritative, trusted workplace mental health platform designed to empower employees to proactively measure, understand, and improve their well-being. In a recent interview with WELCOA, he states that the traditional and still typical employee mental health model focuses on reacting to specific employee needs as they arise. The most popular tools being used right now are things like employee assistance programs (EAPs) and occupational health referrals. He explains that instead of focusing only the 1 in 5 Americans who experience mental ill-health each year, we need to be thinking about a new model for mental health. This new model has three key parts that we have highlighted below!
The 3 Key Parts
Removing the Stigma: Taylor explains that removing the stigma attached to mental illness is the first step toward having a healthier, more productive workforce. The most critical aspect of this is to stop talking about mental health exclusively in relation to mental ill-health. In other words, we all imagine that mental health is the absence of mental illness or, as we prefer to call it, mental ill-health. Unfortunately, this way of thinking makes creates the idea that mental health only needs to be talked about when people are mentally ill. This only continues to drive the stigma attached to mental ill-health and prevent people from getting support. To remove the stigma surrounding mental health, Taylor suggests integrating mental health into your wellness program. This includes providing signposts to guide employees to outside help or referrals when they need it, providing tools and resources that help them check in on their own mental health and support them to stay on track emotionally.
Address Depression and Anxiety: WELCOA cites Mental Health America when they say that depression is among America’s most costly illnesses, accounting for over $51 billion in absenteeism and productivity annually, and costing individuals over $26 billion in direct treatment costs each year. In addition, the CDC says people who report moderate depression get help only 57% of the time and those who report suffering from severe depression turn to professionals only 40% of the time. The COVID-19 pandemic really brought the severity of depression and anxiety to the surface. That is why, as an employer working to remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace and showing the value of proactive and preventive mental health solutions that anyone can benefit from, it’s important to remember to still support employees who do have diagnosed mental conditions. Taylor states that today, the biggest ones are anxiety and depression.
The 5-in-5 Rule: The mental health model that has been in place since the 1950s was a great starting point and has gotten us to where we are now. However, it is no longer accurate in this ever-changing world of ours. The old model continues to stigmatize mental health, because it puts mental health and mental illness at opposite ends of the same spectrum – if you have mental health, then you don’t have a mental illness, and vice versa. This new model recommends including workplace mental health solutions that treat the “5 in 5″ and really reframe the concept of mental well-being in the post-COVID-19 world. The 5-in-5 point rule for employee mental health means that every employee should be addressed and provided for. It is all about embracing employees and focusing on a holistic or “real world” concept of mental well-being.
Taylor sums up his interview by stating that this new model is technically called the dual-spectrum model, because it has two spectrums, not just the one line that puts mental health at one end and mental illness at the other. The thing to realize here is that people can have anxiety or depression, or nearly any other mental health condition, and be mentally well. They can be mentally well if you define mental well-being as thriving, as having positive feelings and positive functioning, in their workplace performance, their interactions with colleagues, and their home life. All of that is possible regardless of any mental health condition, with the right support and tools. To read the full interview, visit WELCOA!