- Employers are struggling in their efforts to support employees with mental health and substance abuse issues, and they aren't confident in their ability to provide appropriate accommodations, according to additional information from The Standard's previously released Absence and Disability Readiness Index.
- Only 29% of the 501 surveyed HR decision-makers reported feeling very confident in accommodating employees' mental health conditions, with only 28% feeling very confident in accommodating employees with drug addictions, the report found.
- Employers face three common challenges in this area, according to the survey: a belief that employees hide their conditions (shared by 64% of respondents), supervisors' inability to recognize mental health conditions and uncertainty about the permanence of symptoms. Less than one-third of respondents said prejudice against people with mental health conditions makes it difficult to provide accommodations.
Employees may believe that their managers are able to recognize and assist with mental health issues, but as the Standard research indicates, HR is not so sure.
A recent Unum survey revealed that 76% of surveyed employees were confident their managers were properly trained on identifying employees dealing with a possible mental health issue, but only 16% of surveyed HR professionals agreed. Additionally, only 25% of surveyed HR professionals said managers were trained on referring employees to mental health resources, though almost all employees assumed that this training was taking place.
HR feels similarly powerless when dealing with substance abuse. In a recent survey conducted by The Hartford, 67% percent of surveyed HR professionals said their organizations were currently affected by the opioid crisis, or eventually would be, and 65% said the epidemic was having a financial impact. But the poll also found that a majority of employees and HR professionals didn't feel well-trained to help their opioid-addicted colleagues.
What can employers do? The Department of Labor released a Mental Health Toolkit designed to help employers better understand mental health issues and create supportive workplaces. This appears to be a good strategy not only from an employee perspective, but from a financial one. Experts have noted the cumulative cost of mental health disorders could reach $16.3 trillion worldwide between 2011 and 2030.
Dave Chase, co-founder of Health Rosetta, has previously written for HR Dive about the key role HR can play in fighting drug abuse. In his piece, he said that HR departments can educate employees about the signs of both opioid abuse and opioid overdoses. He also said that HR may wish to go even further and consider teaching workers about the use of naloxone, which can reverse an overdose.