- Education and training are crucial for multinational employers seeking to meet the mental health needs of employees around the globe, according to a guide from the Business Group on Health. The guide, released May 4 in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, comes at a time when mental health needs are increasing in countries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization said.
- The offering aims to assist HR leaders at global organizations in developing mental health programs for employees and their families. It offers examples of initiatives multinational employers are implementing, such as: providing access to mental health services; training managers on how to address mental health issues; educating employees about mental health disorders; and addressing stigma through the use of testimonials and storytelling. The guide can be used globally, but also focuses on specific issues, such as insurance coverage and treatment options, for managers working in China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
- Mental health is relevant to companies because of its impact on employee well-being, productivity and business performance, according to Business Group on Health. "Addressing mental health issues locally can be one of the most difficult challenges for global organizations," Kathleen O'Driscoll, vice president at Business Group on Health, said in a statement. "It is often difficult for the corporate office to understand the nuances that take place at the local level. These nuances are particularly important for mental health, where misunderstandings and fears are abundant."
As employees cope with changes to work and home life during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are offering opportunities to focus on mental health wellness.
For example, nurses employed by Trusted Health, who are working in facilities with COVID-19 patients, have access to an emotional support line staffed by a nurse practitioner faculty, including mental health experts, the company announced April 23. Through a partnership with Ohio State University College of Nursing, the support network will discuss stress factors with callers and "offer coping strategies and stress-reduction techniques," according to Trusted Health. Nurses can also opt to participate in a four- or eight-week wellness support program through the college.
Starbucks is another company continuing its focus on mental health. A "reimagined mental health care benefit" became available to U.S. employees April 6: Employees and eligible family members have free access to Lyra Health for 20 sessions a year with a mental health therapist or coach.
However, research has shown there's a stigma attached to mental health conditions, making some employees reluctant to seek help. An October 2019 analysis of the Kantar's Inclusion Index survey of 18,000 workers in 14 countries found that more than one-third of employees with a mental health disorder said they've experienced discrimination.
IBM's Institute for Business Value's recent report, How Technology and Data Can Improve Access to Mental Health Resources, described how technology can allow for 24/7 real-time care and remove barriers, including stigma. "Technology can play a role in providing increased access to care for folks who are not insured, may live in rural areas who may be stigmatized, and not want to go to a designated mental health professional," William Kassler, chief medical officer of government health and human services at IBM Watson Health, told HR Dive in a recent interview.