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Employers Should Take an Active Role in Employee Mental Health

Despite the mutual benefits of mental health support, it’s unclear whether employers and employees are aligned when it comes to what that support looks like. According to Evernorth’s Health Care in Focus report, workers want support that helps them deal with issues like work-life balance, stress and burnout. This goes beyond what many employers are currently doing, which is providing traditional benefits and resources for employees to improve their mental health on their own. Employees desire an organizational culture and workplace environment that values their mental health. While benefits and resources are an important part of that, companies also need to take a broader approach by promoting the importance of maintaining mental well-being across their entire workforce.

The strategy and tactics for building and sustaining a work culture that values mental health can vary by organization. However, there are some basic steps to help employers get started:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to mental health at all levels of the organization, starting at the top. Senior executives and managers can lead by example by engaging in health and wellness programs and taking time out from work to destress, encouraging everyone to take care of their well-being.
  • Get employees involved. Confidential surveys and assessments, as well as employee focus groups, can help organizations better understand the specific mental health issues their workforce is facing, and determine the right set of benefits and support programs that can serve everyone.
  • Make it easy to access mental health support. This is more than offering a wide range of services, including face-to-face counseling, support groups, digital apps, and Employee Assistance Programs. It also means educating workers about this support, and providing clear instructions on how to find and use these services. This also involves destigmatizing mental health concerns like stress, isolation, and depression, so people feel more comfortable seeking help for such issues.
  • Continuously check progress. Keep the lines of communication open to gather employee feedback on their mental health status, as well as the effectiveness of support programs and initiatives. It is also important to make adjustments to mental health programs when needed.

Employers have a vested interest in the mental health of their employees. It is vital for people to be present, resilient, and perform at work – which is not only good for them personally, but also good for business.

From our Friends at Cigna Healthcare


Knowing the Importance of Mental Health and Taking Action Are Two Different Things

The survey results from Humantel suggest that the majority of people know the benefits of taking care of their mental health, and know steps they can take to do so – but don’t.

In fact, 98% of those surveyed stated that taking care of their mental well-being would be useful to them, but approximately 30% reported a strong association with contempt, fear, confusion, and frustration with doing so. This may be due to difficulty obtaining the care they need. The journey from feeling something is not right, to seeking information, care, and support options, to actually getting the help is a challenge in itself. Factoring in the many other things occurring in one’s life that limit the time, energy, and resources to take action, including work and cultural stigma, can make seeking care even more difficult.

According to an Evernorth Research report on behavioral health care, 15% of people who have mental health issues go undiagnosed and 60% of people with diagnosed mental health conditions do not receive care. This was before the pandemic exacerbated mental health issues. A national study. that measured mental health in April 2021 found that 32.8% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of depression, such as losing interest in activities, feeling hopeless, not getting quality sleep, feeling fatigued or lacking energy. This was above the 27.8% who did so in March 2020, and more than three times as high as the pre-pandemic estimate of 8.5%. With so many people experiencing mental health issues, the negative impacts to the U.S. workforce and the economy are likely significant.