Employees Need Mental Health Solutions

Leaders who take care of their employees will find they'll take care of their companies; it's as simple as that.

A few years ago, mental health in the workplace was viewed as managing employee mental health issues directly impacting job performance and guarding against potential employer liability. 

Today, more employers realize that mental health, much like physical health is a constant human concern for every person every day. As a result, providing company-sponsored mental health support is quickly becoming the norm. 

Even pre-pandemic, half of the large employers were already training managers to identify symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other disorders. In addition, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 4 out of 10 employers changed their benefits to expand mental health services to employees, with 31 % making changes by implementing services like telemedicine.

TelaCare Health knows employee well-being is a high priority for employers and benefit advisors, but knowing what employees need mental health support and what solutions will work best can be challenging. This guide offers employers and benefit advisors an overview of mental health in the U.S., the different benefit options available, and what to look for in a mental health resource to ensure employees use it and ultimately become healthier and more resilient. 

Company-sponsored mental health care support is quickly becoming the new norm at companies. 

The State of Mental Health in the United States 

1 in 5 American adults lived with a mental illness in 2019 (ranging from mild to severe cognitive, behavioral, or emotional disorders). During the COVID-19 pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms, up from 1 in 10 adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019. In addition, the Mental Health Index reported a 71 % increase in the risk for depression in fulltime workers in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels. There are also long-term mental health impacts of the pandemic looming in the future, ranging from decreased psychological well-being to higher rates of physical health issues like high blood pressure. 

42% of women and 35% of men reported often or always feeling work burnout.

In addition to reports of increased anxiety, depression, and addiction, modern workers are confronted with technology's impact on their day-today lives. The boundaries between personal and professional worlds that overlapped significantly before the pandemic now seem nonexistent in remote work environments. One study reported that 35% of full-time employees had worked 40-plus more hours each month since the pandemic, and 25% of those surveyed said they were currently experiencing burnout from overwork. In addition, almost nine in 10 of the surveyed employees reported that work-related stress, anxiety, and depression affected their home lives, and 76% believed employers should be doing more to protect the workforce's mental health. 

How Are Employers Addressing Employee Mental Health?

In light of the many stressors impacting today's workers, employers are stepping up to provide employees with the support they need to manage episodes of mental illness and maintain good mental health. More than two-thirds of large employer respondents to the Business Group on Health's 2021 survey said they already provide access to online mental health support resources such as apps, videos, and articles, and 88% of those employers say they will offer those benefits in 2021. 

Companies are recognizing the necessity of mental health benefits for all employees and promoting a culture of mental well-being within their organizations. 

While there are monetary costs associated with ignoring the effects of poor mental health on companies - the American Psychiatric Association even has a calculator to help employers estimate the impact - most employers are expanding benefit offerings to include mental health resources because they believe it's the right thing to do. Much like national attitudes toward workers' rights to physical health and safety in the 1970s, U .S. companies recognize the necessity of mental health benefits for all employees and promote a culture of mental well-being within their organizations. 

Who Needs Mental Health Support? 

Employers may consider employees dealing with diagnosed mental illnesses when considering employee benefits for mental health. Still, mental health is a human concern for every employee. 

It makes sense for employers to provide mental health access to all employees regardless of whether or not they have reported or been diagnosed with a mental illness. 

According to McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, mental health and mental illness are much like physical health and illness in that they are states of existing on a spectrum. For example, people can have chronic mental illnesses they may need to manage throughout their lives. Still, they can also experience single instances of poor mental health, such as an episode of depression occurring after a divorce. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC defines mental illness as conditions that affect a person's thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. In addition, the CDC defines mental health as being reflective of emotional, psychological, and social well-being that can affect how we think, feel and act and impact how we interact with others, handle problems and make decisions. 

According to those definitions, it makes sense for employers to provide mental health access to all employees regardless of whether or not they have reported or been diagnosed with a mental illness. Employers must acknowledge that all individuals may experience varying levels of mental health and mental illness throughout their lives. This prepares employers to support their entire workforce and communicates to employees that their contributions and value are still recognized even when they require mental health support. 

It makes sense for employers to provide mental health access to all employees regardless of whether or not they have reported or been diagnosed with a mental illness. 

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