6 Practices for Addressing Employee Mental Health Needs in the Workplace
Gary Shapiro, Senior Vice President, Program Brokerage Corporation
Depression affects as many as one in three adults,1 and has been shown to affect the workforce as well—68% of Millennials and 81% of Generation Z left their jobs in 2021 due to job-related mental health reasons.2 COVID-19 has only made these issues worse. However, a comprehensive program that addresses employee mental health issues improves productivity and reduces turnover. Following these six practices can help build a strong framework for mental wellness, both at home and at the office. These practices were developed by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), a nonprofit dedicated to identifying and sharing the best practices on workplace health and well-being.
1. Raise awareness about mental health and emotional well-being
2. Manage risks related to work, environment and culture
3. Assess employee mental health needs and measure the impact of intervention
Following these SIX PRACTICES can help build a STRONG FRAMEWORK FOR MENTAL WELLNESS, both at home and at the office.
4. Provide and promote access to evidence-based, high-quality care for mental health
At its base, any mental health wellness strategy needs to include behavioral services:
• Access is generally through health plans, EAPs and other partnerships with mental health care providers
• Employers can lower co-pays and fees to reduce financial barriers to care
• Programs should span mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment
• Promote awareness through multiple strategies and channels, helping reduce the stigma associated with mental health while improving access3
5. Integrate employee mental health needs into a comprehensive strategy
There’s a link between mental and physical health. Recognizing the following will help integrate mental health initiatives into a comprehensive wellness strategy:
• Every dimension of well-being is linked to mental health and emotional health
• These dimensions include emotional well-being (which lifestyle coaching can help address), career wellness (career development and coaching) and financial wellness (guidance on budgeting and setting financial goals)
• A successful and comprehensive well-being strategy requires adherence to industry best practices4
6. Partner with local and national organizations
Community and national partnerships benefit both employees and employers:
• Partnerships provide additional resources that are convenient and often low-cost
• Working with a local or national organization on mental health can help employers quickly establish best practices and increase credibility
• Partnerships also encourage greater levels of volunteerism, which has been shown to improve mental and physical well-being
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1. The Brink, “Depression Rates in U.S. Tripled When the Pandemic First Hit – Now, They’re Even Worse,” October 7, 2021.
2. Harvard Business Review, “It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work,” October 4, 2021.
3. McKinsey & Co., “Overcoming stigma: Three strategies toward better mental health in the workplace,” July 23, 2021.
4. These categories of best practices include culture; robust mental health benefits; mental health resources; workplace policies and practices; a healthy work environment; leadership support; outcomes measurement; and innovation. Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Organizational Best Practices Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace, December 2021.