- CEOs from 40 of the world’s top companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, ADP and Macy's have joined with the American Heart Association (AHA) to release an action plan designed for employers looking to create a culture that supports employees' emotional and mental health, including attempts to reverse the stigma of mental health disorders.
- Seven Actionable Strategies for Building a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace suggests strategies such as visibly positioning corporate leaders as proactive champions of a mental health-friendly workplace; developing a mental health plan that is easy to access and easy to digest for all employees; and communicating clearly and often to employees about the organization’s mental health policies, medical benefits, programs and resources. The road map also suggests that employers offer a comprehensive package of employee-centered medical benefits and programs and involve employees in mental health-related decision making.
- "The first step is understanding that mental health and physical health are intrinsically linked and it’s critical to create a cultural norm where employees are comfortable coming forward and supervisors are equipped to recommend resources for employees to get the help they need," Nancy Brown, CEO, American Heart Association, said in a statement.
Mental illness and substance abuse issues affecting the workplace are at the highest level they've been in two years, according to 60% of U.S. employers in a study released by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans — and more than 60% of U.S. workers say their jobs stress them out, a separate netQuote study revealed. Of the 1,012 respondents in the study, 41% were diagnosed with a mental health disorder and 52% said they believe their mental health has interfered with their work.
Some employers have added mental health services to their well-being programs as a way to manage the surge in anxiety and depression among workers. Many are looking to their employee assistance programs (EAPs) to address the problem, as well — though EAPs contend with their own stigma issues, often due to poor marketing.
Many employers already have prioritized mental health benefits. Recent research shows that 91% cover outpatient in-person treatment for mental health, and 86% cover the same type of treatment for substance abuse. But employees have to be free to take advantage of measures that support mental health and emotional wellness. The netQuote study showed that only a quarter of respondents felt comfortable asking to take a day off for their mental health, even though most employees receive an average of seven paid sick days, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also cited NSF International, a public health and safety organization, which said that Americans feel their employers expect them to arrive at work every day, regardless of their health.
Other solutions employers might consider include on-site healthcare clinics, employee access to virtual counseling and training in stress management techniques.