5 ways businesses can prevent a costly mental health crisis

1 month 2 weeks 5 days ago Wednesday, August 12 2020 Aug 12, 2020 Wednesday, August 12, 2020 9:39:57 AM CDT August 12, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
Source: CNN

Editor's note: This op-ed is a collaboration between the mental health doctors in the United States from the National Network of Depression Centers, and Project Healthy Minds, a new millennial-driven mental health nonprofit startup focused on destigmatizing mental illness, using technology to expand access to mental health solutions, and engaging employers to tackle the mental health crisis. The opinions expressed in this commentary are the authors' own.

    (CNN) -- The global pandemic sparked a corporate work-from-home revolution — a new opportunity for many American workers who for decades have been tethered to offices, daily commutes and in-person meetings.

But as clinicians and mental health advocates, it's imperative that we sound the alarm: As we enter a sixth straight month of remote work, a sprawling mental health crisis is beginning to arise among the US workforce.

Nearly four in 10 Americans say the "coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health." Many people working from home are battling social isolation and losing any sense of work-life balance. Working parents are struggling under the weight of being present at their jobs while caring for and home-schooling children. These struggles are compounded by the fact that, at least prior to the pandemic, workers rarely — if ever — sought help from their employer when they were suffering. More than half of employees responded in a 2019 survey that they did not talk to anyone at work about their mental health in the last year.

We are paying for the cost of our inaction in both lives and dollars. Globally, suicide has become the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29. Even before this pandemic, depression and anxiety were costing the global economy $1 trillion each year.

It's time for business leaders to recognize that improving mental health for employees is an important investment that demonstrates a commitment to stakeholder capitalism and could help combat another public health crisis. Well-planned workplace mental wellness programs produce more productive workforces and deliver a positive return on investment. As the World Health Organization has noted, "For every $1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity."

We're urging every business to step up and address their employees' serious mental health needs during this unusual moment by taking a multi-faceted approach.

Openly and consistently talk about mental health

One of the most corrosive elements of our mental health crisis is suffering in silence. Oftentimes, the stigma is more acute in the workplace than it is outside of it. A 2019 survey revealed that 81% of workers said the stigma associated with mental health prevents them from seeking treatment. That's why leaders need to model the behavior by opening up in public settings — leveraging virtual company town halls, for instance — to create a structure that permits employees to open up about their own mental health struggles.

Train managers on mental health

In this new world, managers need to go through specialized training so they know when an employee is struggling with a mental health condition — especially while teams are working remotely and the signals may be less obvious. That means implementing mandatory, company-wide mental health first aid training for managers so that they are well-equipped to proactively identify issues before they get worse.

Ditch the "one-size-fits-all" approach

The mental health needs of employees are diverse. The needs of a young employee who has recently graduated and lives in a small, urban apartment can be very different than that of a female executive raising and educating children while running a large team.

For too long, companies have solely relied on employee assistance programs (EAPs) — essentially an outsourced hotline where employees can get help with legal problems, child care support, mental health services and more — to "check the box" when it comes to providing mental health services to employees. However, EAPs are rarely used — multiple studies have found that fewer than 10% of employees are taking advantage of them.

Once they've gone through formal training, managers should reach out to their team members individually to ask about their mental health and what they may need to establish new work-life boundaries during the pandemic, which will help them avoid burnout.

Redesign employee benefits to support mental health

Our Covid-related work and lifestyle changes aren't going away in the near term. This is a marathon, compounded by uncertainty. Virtual programs can help employees handle stress and emotional symptoms more effectively by teaching mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and encouraging healthful behaviors, like getting adequate sleep, eating well and exercising regularly.

Wellness programs help keep people functioning at their best. Programs that support time off for treatment with a plan to return to work have proven benefits for avoiding 'presenteeism' — when an employee is technically not absent from work, but is less productive. Flexibility to attend weekly therapy sessions or more intensive hospital treatment programs allows employees to focus on getting back to full function. Flexible leave also prevents employees from leaving the company to seek treatment, which can require expensive retraining for skilled roles.

Show that your commitment to mental health is authentic

World Mental Health Day is on October 10. One of the best ways employers can highlight mental health is by celebrating it. Companies should use their brand platform to publicly tell employee stories of overcoming mental health challenges and detail how the company provided support. Employees and prospective talent look to the public positions that companies take on social issues and they make decisions based on that analysis.

To overcome the decades of skepticism, stigma and shame that employees feel about talking about their mental health, management needs to demonstrate an authentic, consistent commitment. Now is the time for employers to confront this urgent health crisis that is impacting their employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also the smart business decision.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

More News

Grid
List
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. Previous coverage: ... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, October 01 2020 Oct 1, 2020 Thursday, October 01, 2020 6:42:00 AM CDT October 01, 2020 in News
Columbia police conclude investigation in Mengqi Ji case The Columbia Police Department concluded their part of the investigation... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, October 01 2020 Oct 1, 2020 Thursday, October 01, 2020 5:26:00 AM CDT October 01, 2020 in Top Stories
(AP) — Kansas City leaders are introducing a new four-part plan they hope will help the city reduce its burgeoning... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 9:40:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A bicyclist was rushed to the hospital, Wednesday, after a driver hit him and ran from the scene.... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 8:49:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
(AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing over a Missouri court order allowing some Kansas City area evictions... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 7:55:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
ASHLAND - The Wilton Landowners Levee and Drainage Association has been waiting a year to be reimbursed for work completed... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 7:36:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Police Department concluded their part of the investigation in regard to the Mengqi Ji case, a Columbia... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 6:22:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Tuesday's Presidential debate was different than years past and not just because there was no crowd in... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 5:49:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
(CNN) - The Senate on Wednesday approved a stopgap spending bill in order to avert a government shutdown just hours... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 5:47:04 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia/Boone County Health Department released guidelines for trick or treating on Halloween. There are numerous activities... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 5:47:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- Missouri Head Football Coach Eliah Drinkwitz drew attention on Wednesday when he spoke up about the SEC's lack of... More >>
17 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 3:33:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in Sports
MIDWAY - A string of burglaries and larcenies have impacted more than a dozen properties around the Midway area. ... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 3:16:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
MARSHALL- Marshall Public Schools went remote Wednesday, after Superintendent Dr. Carol Maher met with her team and decided COVID-19 numbers... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 1:42:00 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
NASHVILLE (AP) — The NFL says the Pittsburgh-Tennessee game originally scheduled for Sunday will be played either Monday or Tuesday... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 12:26:34 PM CDT September 30, 2020 in Sports
(CNN) -- After a five-month battle with leukemia, the first known person to be cured of HIV has died of... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 11:49:00 AM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
CENTRALIA - The sweet smells of lavender and grass hang heavily over Jason Lockwood's workshop. Lockwood and his wife... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 11:30:00 AM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
SEDALIA - Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada confirmed that at least 1,200 blank absentee ballots were reported missing Wednesday... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 9:48:00 AM CDT September 30, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- The global pandemic has stress levels running high these days. "One of the first things on everyone's... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 Wednesday, September 30, 2020 9:44:00 AM CDT September 30, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 52°
10am 56°
11am 58°
12pm 60°
1pm 61°