Survey: Employers still struggle to identify mental health issues
- A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that employers are uncertain about how to help workers with mental health issues because they don’t know how many workers need assistance, reports Employee Benefit News (EBN).
- Among 247 U.S. employers polled, 158, or 64%, believed that under 30% of their workers suffered from mental health issues or substance abuse. One quarter of the employers didn’t know whether their employees were affected at all.
- EBN says that employers are using the resources they have on hand, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), to help employees with mental health issues. Most employers (91%) have EAPs; among EAP programs, 91% offer counseling or evaluations, 87% offer mental health services or counseling, 79% offer crisis hotlines and 62% offer legal assistance.
Employers are largely unable to identify which employees have mental health issues because symptoms are often hard to detect, and employers aren’t trained to diagnose problems.
In an interview, Bruce Levison, LCSW, MSW told HR Dive that instead of trying to diagnose a problem, employers should talk to workers about patterns of behavior such as excessive absenteeism or chronic lateness, which can be symptomatic of a mental disorder or alcohol abuse.
Mental illness still carries a stigma, despite a growing recognition of the need for treatment. Troubled employees might not want to come forth to ask for help out of embarrassment or fear of losing their jobs.
Drug or alcohol addiction are the most frequent problems found in the workplace, but anxiety and depression also are common conditions. The incentive for employers is not only ethical, but also practical — studies show mental health spending improves overall wellness, delivering measurable ROI.
- Employee Benefit News Uncertainty complicates addressing mental health issues
- HR Dive How spending more on behavioral health can bring wellness savings