Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder, while about 7 percent have a major depressive disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Experts predict these numbers will continue to increase as the pandemic takes its toll on the mental health of Americans. A recent study found that 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
Mental health affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including their work. It is more important than ever that employees prioritize employee mental health. Here are five reasons why:
- Improving performance. According to Understood.org, 86% of employees who were treated for depression saw a subsequent improvement in their work performance.
- Reducing absenteeism. Therapy and mental health services reduce employee absenteeism and presenteeism (when people go to work even though they’re struggling with physical or mental health issues).
- Improves employee retention. Employees are more likely to stay at a company where they feel their mental health is prioritized and they have a healthy work-life balance.
- Reduces health care costs. Providing mental health care reduces health care costs, as the prevalence of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases is twice as high in people that have a serious mental illness.
- Attracts quality employees. According to Fortune Magazine, when they are evaluating new jobs, over three quarters of employees consider mental health benefits as being critical and say it would affect their choice of where to work.
During the pandemic, almost 40% employers increased access to mental health benefits. We can do better, though. According to Fortune Magazine, improving out-of-network coverage and expanding provider networks are both crucial in making mental health more affordable — along with substance abuse services. Networks of mental health providers are difficult to navigate, and employees frequently don’t have many choices when it comes to finding mental health services.
The American Psychological Association has stated that when employees are working from home, it’s harder to detect mental health challenges. Significant time can pass between the time of onset and when the discomfort becomes so great the employee starts to show signs of it, so it is incumbent on managers to be more proactive in identifying the symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc.
It’s easy to improve the way your company supports mental health. Some easy steps you can take include
- Making sure mental health coverage is included in your health care plan.
- Establishing an Employee Assistance Program (and de-stigmatizing its use).
- Using communication to increase access to mental health resources, which also works to reduce stigma about it.
- Promoting employee well-being by building flexibility into employee schedules.
- Designating quiet rooms, offering meditation or yoga classes, and providing accommodations and smooth return-to-work policies for those who need to take a break from work.
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