- Conversations around mental health belie the fact that, for many U.S. workers, access to resources and support are “greatly lacking,” according to the results of a survey of 993 employed adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of recruitment outsourcing company Yoh.
- Only 23% of respondents said their employers offered on-site or remote mental health resources at no cost to them, and only 14% said their employers had conducted a mental health check-in with either themselves or their colleagues. Despite the pandemic’s impact on mental health, just 23% said their employers had improved strategies for addressing mental health in the past two years.
- Moreover, employees are often unaware of the resources their employers offer, Yoh said. One in five respondents said they knew whether they received access to mental health resources as part of their employer-sponsored health plans. “This should be a wake-up call for companies across industries,” Emmett McGrath, Yoh’s president, said in a statement.
The survey results serve as a contrast to poll after poll after of HR professionals on mental health.
For example, in the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2022 benefits survey, 91% of respondents said they offered some form of mental health coverage, and many identified mental health as among the most important benefits to offer employees. Mental health projects strongly as a trend in 2023, too; a recent Business Group on Health survey found that 47% of large employers viewed expansion of mental health services as a top healthcare priority for next year.
Yet the availability of mental health benefits does not always equate to use. Long-running employee concerns about cost, confidentiality or unfamiliarity with how to use services have slowed adoption, according to a 2021 LifeWorks survey, and employees and supervisors may be hesitant to talk about their mental health challenges.
As with other benefits areas, mental health is also tied up in complex sociological issues. A July report from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that even when front-line, hourly employees of color have access to benefits that could help stabilize their mental health — leaves of absence and parental leave — 45% said they did not feel they could take advantage of such benefits without jeopardizing their careers.
Beyond benefits, mental health also may have implications for cultural strategy. HR executives previously told HR Dive that psychological safety has emerged as a priority for the profession during the pandemic, with practices such as check-ins and recognition becoming best practices. An Unum survey of workers found that employers could do more to reduce stigma around mental health year-round, in addition to providing additional resources.