May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and mental health issues among American workers have been on the rise since the beginning of this year. The pandemic has been the most traumatic event that half (50%) of all Americans have experienced, according to new research. A study of McKinsey found that one in three employees say their return to work has had a negative impact on their mental health and that they feel anxious and depressed. A total of 59% of Americans have felt isolated since the start of the pandemic despite 75% living with someone and a third being more depressed.
Escalation of mental health issues
A survey of 1,000 people per All Points North Pavilion (APN), found that Americans have faced increasing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks since the start of the pandemic, with 36.7% anxious, 32.5% more panic attacks and 27% more depression. Nearly a third (30.3%) regularly struggle with stress and anxiety. And younger generations like Gen Z (53%) and Millennials (60%) feel the most traumatized by the events of the past 20 months. “As the data shows, an increasing number of people are struggling with mental health issues, which of course makes sense – it’s been a whole year,” said APN CEO Noah Nordheimer. “But the only way out is to take the necessary steps to improve ourselves and improve our minds.”
A March 2022 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association suggests that Americans are in “survival mode” due to reports of high levels of stress caused by inflation, the ongoing pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine. Given these stressors, it is crucial for companies to think about supporting employees and managing workplace stress. Managing this overwhelming sense of overall uncertainty as well as day-to-day tasks can lead to even faster burnout, impacting employee morale, productivity, and business results.
Confronting Mental Health Stigma
Although the surge in conversations about mental health during Covid-19 has helped to reduce the stigma associated with receiving mental health care, there is still stigma. Fear of being judged due to a mental health diagnosis is the top barrier to getting help for people struggling with mental health issues, with 57.8% citing this as the main reason why. they do not seek treatment.
Providing mental health resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) is an effective way to support employees struggling with mental health issues. But that’s only part of the picture, according to Laura Lee Gentry, director of human resources at Embark. “Working with the various resources of an EAP can help employees identify and resolve their mental health issues before they become a real barrier to their quality of life and performance,” Gentry said. “However, offering an EAP is only a small piece of the puzzle because the use of the EAP is less than 10%. To increase their use, companies must eliminate the stigma surrounding EAPs, such as the misunderstanding of mental illness, and encourage employees to use them. »
Mental Health Predictions for 2022-2023
- Mental health support. Oliver Smith, chief strategy officer and chief ethics officer for Koa Healthpredicts that companies will shine a light on the effectiveness of mental health support and the return on investment (ROI) of their initial approaches.
- Persistent mental health issues. According to Smith, the prevalence of depression and anxiety in the population will continue to be high as the pandemic lasts longer than we would like.
- More targeted approaches. Smith thinks companies will begin to focus more on ROI effectiveness in their mental support as they begin to uncheck the initial approach of throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.
- Stigma. Smith is optimistic that we will all continue to struggle to have conversations about mental health, even as the stigma continues to fall, which won’t automatically make everyone comfortable talking about their mental health.
- Hybrid and remote work. A Ergotron A survey of 1,000 full-time workers found that 56% of employees said their mental health, work-life balance and physical activity had improved as a result of their hybrid work environment. And 88% said the flexibility of working from home or the office increased their job satisfaction. According to Chad Severson, CEO of Ergotron, employees have adapted to the landscape of hybrid and remote working, and they now prefer it. “As employers look to attract and retain talent, it will be essential to focus on practices that promote well-being and help employees thrive wherever they work,” he said. . And the FlexJobs 2022 Work Insight Survey found that remote work is considered the second most important component of compensation and benefits, ranked only behind salary.
- Wellness programs. Management believes that employees should have access to a range of wellness programs, including closer access to external health care providers and therapists available during working hours if needed. Doing these activities together can help employees release some of the pent-up anxiety, as well as cultivate a sense of camaraderie among co-workers. They offer e-learning courses that offer yoga and meditation lessons to employees, helping them feel more cared for and seen and giving them the time and space to check in on their own health.
- Four-day work weeks. Co-founder and CEO of MonographRobert Yuen believes frontline workers need more weather, which is why his business operates on a four-day-a-week schedule. “A four-day work week gives employees the space to take care of themselves, providing space for personal development,” he said. “Since this tech startup launched a four-day work week in 2019, employee satisfaction has hit an all-time high.”
- Meditation. Suzanne Tick, Creative Director at Luum Textiles, focuses on harnessing the teachings and techniques of Vedic meditation to help ease stress and anxiety. Through Vedic meditation, people can eliminate stress in their lives and create clarity to allow creative influences to enter their lives. Deeply rooted in the meditation lifestyle, the studio has been able to fully embrace the world of limitless color, texture and pattern choices.
- Exemplary leadership. Adam Weber, Community SVP at 15Five insists that the company’s top brass must lead the way in prioritizing mental well-being. “If leaders want their employees to prioritize their mental health, they need to do the same in a very visible way,” Weber said. “It’s one thing to encourage people to take time out for therapy or a mental health day, but most leaders haven’t yet taken the next step to do it themselves in a transparent way. ” Laura Lee Gentry agrees that management plays an important role in employee mental health in the workplace. “Because managers are an employee’s first point of contact, companies should create HR programs that train managers and supervisors on how to spot common mental health issues such as signs of stress and depression. anxiety and how to approach and support employees who show these signs,” she explained.