Today is the 30th annual World Mental Health Day. Created by the World Health Organization in 1992, the day aims to direct attention and resources to the critical importance of mental well-being. This year's campaign focuses on making mental health a priority for all people around the world.
The workplace is a good place to start. Most people spend half their waking hours at work, where mental health challenges can have a direct impact on employees' ability to be fully present and engaged. Employers are well positioned to not only support employee mental health because it is the right thing to do but also because they will see a positive business impact from doing so.
Employers have been seeing a worsening trend in employee mental health for several years, and the pandemic made such issues as stress, depression, and burnout significantly more common.1
Even as the pandemic apparently recedes, a recent employer survey conducted by Unum* showed that more than half of respondents (58%) are more concerned with their employees' overall mental health and wellness needs than they were a year ago.
Employers in our survey consider providing mental health support for employees second in importance only to providing affordable benefits — and even more critical than employee recruitment and retention. And nearly two-thirds anticipate an increase in the usage of mental health benefits among their employees in the coming year.
Many employers note that the mental health programs they offer aren't being used. One common reason for this is the stigma that persists around mental illness and seeking treatment to improve mental health. In our survey, two-thirds of respondents place a high priority on reducing the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
Combatting this stigma requires that employers promote a culture of openness and acceptance around mental health, as well as encourage employees to use available resources, through clear, empathetic and frequent communication.
* All statistics are from the Unum Employer Insights Pulse Survey, 2022, which surveyed 400 employers in a wide variety of industries between March 28 and April 5, 2022.