Mental Health Addressed in The Workplace

Studies have shown that, one in four Americans has a mental health or substance use disorder.

Research done by Paychex and Future workplace found that, among 600+ full-time workers, financial and mental health well-being are the highest priorities for employees. During the week of March 15th in 2020, stay-at-home orders were put in place across the nation. In this same week, 78 percent of all antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia prescriptions filled were new prescriptions (versus refills).

Mental illnesses have consistently been on the rise. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of anxiety and depression have increased dramatically across the nation. Having an open dialogue around mental health is important, but it is no longer the only solution companies should turn to.

To combat the mental health crisis, employers need to create effective programs that will encourage employees to get the help they need.  

Include Mental Health Services in Employee Health Benefits 

The most common reason employees do not seek mental illness services is because their health insurance does not cover it. An hour-long therapy session can cost anywhere between $65 to $250. Employees are being forced to choose between affording necessities and affording care for their untreated mental illness. In a 2018 survey, 42 percent of respondents cited cost and poor insurance coverage as key barriers to accessing mental healthcare. However, we are starting to see companies everywhere invest more into their employee’s well-being. 

Starbucks spent more for healthcare issues than for coffee.

Another great example is EY’s We Care program. This initiative was designed to provide employees with tools and resources for mental health. Similarly, other companies are offering free meditation apps and access to online stress management sessions to their employees. We are seeing that companies that make investments in employees well-being early on are saving more in the long run.  

 Mental illnesses can be an early indicator of physical health problems. A McKinsey study found that those who obtain an antidepressant increase their odds of subsequently receiving a drug for diabetes (by 30 percent), cancer (by 50 percent), and heart disease (by almost 60 percent). By investing in the mental well-being of your employees early on, you may be able to prevent more healthcare costs in the future.  

Encourage Employees to Get Help by Implementing Mental Health Programs  

 The social stigma associated with mental health has caused many people with behavioral health illnesses to not receive treatment. Often, employees will choose not to disclose mental health issues because they are concerned it will threaten their job security, or they will be “viewed differently” in the workplace.  

 Implementing inclusive programs to promote mental health indicates the importance of mental health to employees. Here are some programs that other companies have adopted: 

  • Free access to a therapist or counselor 

  • Unlimited access to meditation/stress-management apps 

  • Complimentary gym memberships  

  • Monthly check-ins for each employee 

  • Anonymous wellness surveys 

  • Accessible self-assessment tools  

  • Tools to learn about and treat different mental illnesses. 

 Investing in your employee’s well-being is investing in your company’s well-being.

 When employees are supported to treat their mental illness, it allows them to be more productive and successful in their respective roles – benefitting the company’s bottom line.  

Flexible Schedules Positively Impact Employee’s Mental Health  

There is more than healthcare insurance plans and internal programs to support an employee’s mental well-being. A survey done by Benefits Pro found that 86 percent of respondents felt that having more flexibility in their work schedules would have a positive impact on their mental health. Offering hybrid, remote, and fully on-site options is critical to adhering to employee work/life balance. These options are now becoming a necessity for job seekers when considering potential employers. 

More than half of Americans are willing to leave their current job for one that prioritizes mental health.

In the same survey, 78 percent of employees feel empowered to let someone at their company know when they aren’t feeling physically or mentally well, compared to just 40 percent in 2020. 

Final Thoughts 

These past two years have been challenging for everyone.

Before the pandemic, 8.5 percent of adults experienced elevated depression symptoms. In 2021, that number grew to 32.8 percent.

Work is a big part of our daily lives. Employers should strongly consider ways to provide employees with the necessary resources to take care of their mental well-being. When employees have a healthy mind, they’re more productive and successful. As a result, the company is more productive and successful overall.  


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