You’ve probably noticed that stress and anxiety levels seem to be up at work. After three years of historically high stress, employee health and well-being are still under siege—and it’s affecting how workers feel and perform at work. This is where mental health awareness in the workplace comes in.
According to new research,1 financial stress and economic uncertainty are the primary threats to employee health and well-being. Insights reveal that 92% of employees are stressed about their finances, and it’s hurting their relationships and mental health. It’s also damaging productivity at levels projected to cost employers nearly $200 billion annually.2
These new stressors are shifting how many leaders rank their talent management and HR challenges. Supporting holistic employee health and well-being is emerging as a top priority for 53% of leaders this year,3 overriding last year’s talent attraction and retention challenges. As it turns out, supporting holistic well-being ideally aligns with May, which is recognized as Mental Health Month. In this article, we’ll look at the shortfalls of traditional approaches, how to effectively support mental health awareness in the workplace, and why the right health benefits matter now more than ever.
Supporting mental health awareness in the workplace
Supporting well-being matters because the stakes are high: research from Gallup shows that employers who are struggling are twice as likely to leave their jobs.4 Yet traditional approaches to addressing workplace mental health have consistently fallen short of employee needs for several reasons. Often, cost is a major hurdle to accessing effective mental health care, even for the insured. With voids in primary health insurance plans, copays, out-of-network and prescription costs can drive up out-of-pocket spending. Faced with high costs, employees may opt to skip or delay care, even when it risks their mental health and well-being. Other benefits like employee assistance programs may offer some mental health benefits, but these are often subject to session or duration limits that prevent them from truly meeting employees’ needs.
Beyond these shortfalls, the need to support employee health and well-being is growing. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 22.8% of US adults experience mental illness each year, with depression and anxiety disorders being the most common.5 Untreated, mental illness can also affect physical health, contribute to a higher incidence of substance abuse, and have broader consequences like disability, lost productivity, and much more.6
Benefits that effectively support employee health and well-being
Given these consequences and costs, it is beneficial for employers to offer comprehensive mental health and well-being benefits for their employees. Providing coverage and resources puts care within reach financially—and makes it easier for employees in crisis to navigate access to care.
Employee needs differ, and effective health benefits meet individuals where they are, no matter where they fall along a continuum of care needs. Some employees may need coverage and support to address critical care needs, like a major depressive episode or a substance abuse disorder. Others may need support navigating the daily stresses of caregiving or reentry to work after a maternity leave, for instance. Even healthy employees can benefit from proactive well-being support for life’s inevitable ups and downs. Providing mental health support that is easy for employees to access and navigate can help to address needs faster, more easily and more effectively.
In addition, openly promoting comprehensive well-being benefit offerings can reduce the stigma surrounding their usage—and give employees the opportunity to ask questions. Employers who communicate these benefit offerings and normalize them as part of the workplace culture can make their employees feel supported, valued, and more engaged.
What’s more, mental health and well-being benefits are becoming table stakes for hiring and retention, especially for younger generations in the workforce. This means that employers that do not offer mental health and well-being benefits are likely to have a harder time attracting and retaining talent.
Mental health and well-being benefits that are effective and easy to access are a win-win-win, helping to support current employees, strengthen workplace culture, and boost recruitment and retention. ArmadaCare’s WellPak® plan was created to offer both coverage and support services to address a continuum of employee health and well-being needs. WellPak includes Connect & Thrive with easy-to-access, easy-to-use support services with counseling, coaching and personalized care navigation to meet employees where they are and connect them to what they need.
Learn more about WellPak and how it can provide effective employee health and well-being support.
1 Brightplan, 2023 Wellness Barometer Survey
4 Gallup, 2021
5 NAMI, 2021