Americans have been through a lot over the past twelve months, and it's not surprising to see the statistics about the impact of 2020 on mental health.
- 1 in 3 U.S. adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic, vs 1 in 10 pre-pandemic.¹
- 9 out of 10 employers report that COVID-19 is affecting their workforce behavioral health and/or productivity.²
- 61% of adults say they could have used more emotional support than they received over the prior 12 months.³
Many conversations are likely happening within HR teams across the country about what to do and how to support employees. But for some, they might not know where to start. Talking about mental health and wellbeing can feel intimidating, controversial, and personal—something that HR may have advised against in the past.
However, the past year has also shown that employers want to do the right thing and offer meaningful support to their employees. One report found that 77% of employers are offering or expanding employees' access to virtual behavioral health services in the wake of COVID-19.⁴
So, where to start? Tackling the topic of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace can't be done in one article, one meeting, or one corporate initiative. There are three things that you can do now to evaluate your current strategies and readiness for additional strategies and resources to support your employees' mental health.
- Revisit your company culture and values. Does your company value and promote inclusion, authenticity, or wellbeing?
- Support your people leaders. Do you managers understand and practice vulnerable leadership? Do they help create and foster safe spaces for their teams to ask for help, be honest and authentic, and support each other? Do they know where to turn if they are concerned about a team member?
- Provide resources and support. Do you have services within your benefits that make it easy for employees to access mental health resources? Doctor On Demand® offers a full-spectrum of mental health services from psychiatry and therapy, to chat-based coaching that helps employees with non-clinical issues like stress, sleep, or burnout.
While the past year has brought the issue of mental health in the workplace to a national conversation, it's clear that there is more action needed to properly address the growing mental health demand. In a survey by McKinsey, 71% of employers believe they support employee mental health well or very well. Compare that to employee respondents, where only 27% rated those offerings as good or very good.⁵
There are many ways to have conversations with employees about mental health and wellbeing—and the most important thing is just to start.
¹ National Center for Health Statistics. Report. "Early Release of Selected Mental Health Estimates Based on Data from the January–June 2019 National Health Interview Survey."https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/ERmentalhealth-508.pdf
² McKinsey & Company. "National employer survey reveals behavioral health in a COVID-19 era as a major concern." June 9, 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/national-employer-survey-reveals-behavioral-health-in-a-covid-19-era-as-a-major-concern#
³ American Psychological Association. Press release. "Stress in American 2020 Survey Signals a Growing National Mental Health Crisis." October 20, 2020. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/10/stress-mental-health-crisis
⁴ Willis Towers Watson. Press release. "Companies move to enhance health care and wellbeing programs in response to COVID-19." May 7, 2020. https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en-US/News/2020/05/companies-move-to-enhance-health-care-and-wellbeing-programs-in-response-to-covid-19
⁵ McKinsey Live webinar. "Promoting mental wellness in the workplace." April 15, 2021.