, Why Is It So Difficult To Invest In Employees’ Mental Health?, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Why Is It So Difficult To Invest In Employees’ Mental Health?

recent research report from Ginger showed 96% of CEOs believe their companies are doing enough for employee mental health. But get this—only 69% of employees agreed. Whenever there’s a difference of opinion that reveals a gap like this one, it’s worth investigating why. Certainly, finding research on the problem isn’t the issue. All signs point to a crisis in addressing employee’s chronic pain, alcohol/opioid abuse, burnout, stress, and anxiety. Americans are not able to afford, find or access care, according to Mental Health America, which offers a detailed breakdown of statistics by race, age, and type of mental illness. 

Improving the state of mental health in the U.S. depends on businesses investing in their greatest asset, employees, by helping to identify risks and connect people to resources. 

The invisible nature of these issues—and employees resistance to sharing their personal health concerns—makes measuring them tricky. Employees who may need the help most may mask their symptoms or refuse help because they worry about keeping their job, facing stigma or being able to afford care. Others aren’t aware of the mental health benefits their employer offers. Still, not investing in your company’s mental well being is a sign you may not be thinking long term enough.

Invest From The Top Down   

Much of a company’s performance can be attributed to how prepared the leadership team is to deal with crisis. I’m defining leadership broadly. An EY study shows 80% of board members felt unprepared for a major risk event such as the pandemic.

Still, there’s value in connecting with employees at all levels. Understanding how a coworker feels “is a critical social skill that grows communication, connection, and loyalty, enhancing individual productivity, team cohesion, and employee alignment to organizational goals,” according to a 2021 Workplace Culture Report

Invest in Data

, Why Is It So Difficult To Invest In Employees’ Mental Health?, The Nzuchi News Forbes

As the pandemic continues to play out, your company has a rare opportunity to rethink your mental wellness strategy. “Organizations need a framework to decode messy human interactions, and employees need wisdom and guidance in real-time and at scale,” says Janine Yancey, founder and CEO of EmTrain. In response to the problem, EmTrain developed a global dataset to help clients benchmark workplace culture shifts. Pulse surveys worked particularly well for employers during the pandemic, which was a time of rapid, unexpected change. Employers can also use data to offer actionable feedback to managers and train them in the type of crisis management they need. There is no one size fits all strategy, other than being as kind and human as you possibly can be. 

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Invest In Ending The Silence 

Pre pandemic, only 11% of U.S. adults surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to the journal Nature. Post-pandemic, 42% of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. That’s quite a leap, especially because  self-disclosure of disability or illness has traditionally been one of the toughest issues to solve. 

There’s a long list of reasons why people aren’t getting the help they need. I suggest becoming as familiar with as many as possible. It’s good to know what you don’t know. The pandemic exposed a lot of inequality, bias, stigma, and lack of resources and emphasized how care needs to be customized for different people. For example, Black women are more prone to report feeling hopeless than white, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There’s also a giant gap in understanding whether mental health qualifies as a disability protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Many employees aren’t aware that mental health issues, such as severe anxiety, PTSD or post-partum depression can qualify as disabilities. 

Invest By Type of Intervention

A Deloitte analysis of the economic payoffs of mental health interventions breaks down interventions by efficacy. Overall, the goal of the review, done in Canada, was to show not only that total payoff for various programs varies widely but that it can have a significant impact on employees’ general quality of life—and that’s good for business, too. To put it bluntly, “leaders make choices and choices create change,” said Paul Polman, chair of The Valuable 500. One CEO is not enough to impact change, he added. Find out more about how disability is your business, a core value of The Valuable 500. Start investing time, money and human kindness today.

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