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Workplace mental health at a catalytic point in time

Researchers who conducted a study on the prevalence of mental health challenges and stigma in U.S. workplaces in 2019 have now updated the report analyzing 2020’s events effects, and how the pandemic has sparked, if not demanded, a shared empathy for mental health and a collective realization of the urgent need to support it at work moving forward.

More employees are talking about mental health at work than in 2019, and from 2020 this support became a true business imperative. The study shows that the most commonly desired workplace resources for mental health still are a more open and accepting culture, training, and clearer information about where to go or who to ask for support. Some findings highlights:

Nearly ⅔ of respondents talked about their mental health to someone at work in the past year. Only 49% described their experience of talking about mental health at work as positive or reported that they received a positive or supportive response, which is comparable to 2019 rates.

Those who felt supported by their employer amidst the pandemic were 2.4x as likely to be satisfied with their job and twice as likely to intend to stay at their company for more than two years.

Half of the study respondents reported having left previous roles at a company due, at least in part, to mental health reasons, compared to a third (34%) in 2019. This number grows to 81% for Gen Z (previously 75% in 2019) and 68% for Millennial respondents (previously 50% in 2019).

Just over half (54%) believed that mental health was prioritized at their company, compared to other priorities. Similarly, only half (47%) believed that their company leaders were advocates for mental health at work.

Executive (82%) and C-level (78%) study respondents were more likely to report at least one mental health symptom, compared to individual contributors (71%) and managers (71%).

In conclusion to all the findings, the authors believe that culture change requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach to succeed, and workplace mental health is no different. Companies that want to improve the state of mental health at work need to adjust their strategies. 

“Employers must move from seeing mental health as an individual challenge to a collective priority. Given all the workplace factors at play, companies can no longer compartmentalize mental health as an individual’s responsibility to address alone through self-care, mental health days, or employee benefits. Here’s what they need to provide to make real progress”.

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Source: 2021 Mental Health at Work Report