A person is sitting in a room, speaking with a therapist who is taking notes. A person is sitting in a room, speaking with a therapist who is taking notes.

Workplace wellness programs

Workplace wellness programs can help companies identify employees at risk for mental health concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workplace well-being initiatives can connect employees to mental health treatment options and provide support and accommodations that help reduce symptoms and increase overall wellness.1

84% of respondents to a recent survey reported at least 1 workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health.2 Company cultures and employee perceptions are evolving to address mental health at work. The Harvard Business Review says the future of mental health at work “demands culture change—with more vulnerability, compassion and sustainable ways of working.”3

Mental health and work statistics4

  • About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness every year.
  • 71% of adults in the U.S. reported having at least 1 symptom of stress.
  • 61% of workers said their mental health affected their productivity.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the proportion of workers with symptoms of depression increased by 18%.
  • 37% of workers said their work environment contributed to the mental health symptoms they experienced.
  • Mental health disorders and substance abuse issues cost U.S. employers between $79 and $105 billion a year in indirect costs.

A comparison between Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Mental Health at Work Report and Harvard Business Review’s 2019 Mental Health at Work Report, which used the same metrics, shows that the prevalence of mental health challenges increased during the period.5

Other trends shown in that research comparison included increased attrition, with 68% of Millennials (up from 50% in 2019) and 81% of Gen Zers (up from 75% in 2019) leaving roles for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

Management may not be seeing the same picture, however. According to McKinsey & Company, 77% of surveyed employers say they support employee mental health at work well or very well. Meanwhile, 67% of employees with a mental illness said that finding access to care was very difficult and 68% reported continuing stigma attached to mental health disorders in the workplace.6

“Employers have the opportunity to change this climate of fear,” says the National Alliance for Mental Illness. “They rarely do, though. Roughly 85% of employees’ mental health conditions are undiagnosed or untreated.”7

The evidence is clear that the cost of mental illness in the workplace is significant and widespread. Almost 20% of working adults report significant symptoms of mental illness over the course of a month, and half will experience an issue over their lifetime.8

Lost productivity as a result of 2 of the most common mental disorders, anxiety and depression, costs the global economy $1 trillion each year.9

How to promote mental health at work

Make it a priority. Establish and/or promote Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to support employees with work-related stress, anxiety, depression, emotional distress, marital and family relationship concerns, substance abuse, financial difficulties and other concerns. Your company’s health and safety guidelines should include processes for addressing prevention, as well as early identification, support and rehabilitation for burnout and other mental health issues. Establish rules prohibiting harassment and bullying, a process for investigating complaints and consequences for violations.

Reduce the stigma. Communicate about the priority your company places on mental wellness. C-suite-led communications have been shown to be very effective in reducing stigma, and it’s especially helpful for well-respected leaders to open up about their own personal challenges and approaches. Storytelling is 1 of the strongest catalysts for change.

Provide supervisors and managers with mental health training. Leaders must treat mental health as an organizational priority with accountability mechanisms and regular pulse surveys. An environment of psychological safety, empathy and authenticity are key. Leaders need to be trained to navigate mental health at work, have difficult conversations and create supportive workplaces.

Create a mentally healthy work culture. Provide a workplace that promotes flexibility, autonomy and healthy boundaries. Create norms around communications responsiveness and urgency. Ideas include no email after work hours, focused work time and no-meeting days. Recognize and reward employees for their contributions to the company, and encourage them to build strong professional relationships with employee engagement and team-building activities.

Eliminate barriers to care. Connect patients with providers, encourage payers to cover a broader spectrum of mental illness and provide new models of care through technology. Support employees who may need access to care for a sustained period.

As we learn more about the intersection of mental health and work, proactive support for employees’ mental wellness is becoming a key source of differentiation for employers.

Humana’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Work-Life Services are confidential and easily accessible over the phone and online. EAP network providers are trained to assist employees with anxiety, emotional issues, relationship concerns, coping with a serious illness, loss of a loved one, sleeping difficulties, plus other daily needs and life events.

The Go365® well-being and rewards program offers professional, highly personalized coaching to help members create and carry out their health and life goals. The Go365 Healthy Life Coaching program provides telephonic sessions for:

  • Clarifying goals and priorities
  • Creating personalized action plans
  • Promoting motivation and self-confidence
  • Providing accountability and support

To find out more about Go365, contact your licensed Humana sales agent or request more information about Go365’s wellness program by filling out this formOpens in new window.

Go365 is not an insurance product and is not available with all Humana health plans. This is a general description of services which are subject to change. Product features may vary by client. Please refer to Customer Support for more information.

These non-insurance services are provided by Humana EAP and Work-Life Services. Please refer to your Human Resources contact for more information. Personal information about participants remains confidential according to all applicable state and federal laws, unless disclosure is allowed by such laws.

Wellness coaches do not offer medical, financial or other professional advice, and should not be used in place of consulting a licensed professional. You should consult with an applicable licensed professional to determine what is right for you.

In Kansas, Humana agents and sales representatives are prohibited from conducting pre-sale conversations with clients regarding Go365, EAP, or other value-added services.

Sources:

1“Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace: A Guide,” Indeed, last accessed January 8, 2022, https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/mental-health-in-the-workplaceOpens in new window.

2Kelly Greenwood and Julia Anas, “It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work,” Harvard Business Review, last accessed January 8, 2022, https://hbr.org/2021/10/its-a-new-era-for-mental-health-at-workOpens in new window.

3Greenwood and Anas, “It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work.”

4“Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace: A Guide.”

5Greenwood and Anas, “It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work.”

6Liz Hilton Segel and Erica Coe, “Promoting mental wellness in the workplace,” McKinsey & Company, last accessed January 8, 2022, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-live/webinars/promoting-mental-wellness-in-the-workplaceOpens in new window.

7Joseph Rauch, “Why Employers Need To Talk About Mental Illness In The Workplace,” National Alliance on Mental Illness of Pierce County, last accessed January 8, 2022, https://namipierce.org/why-employers-need-to-talk-about-mental-illness-in-the-workplace/Opens in new window.

8Sherry Giled and Richard G. Frank, “Making workplaces better for people struggling with mental health will make work better for everyone,” Brookings, last accessed January 8, 2022, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/usc-brookings-schaeffer-on-health-policy/2021/11/01/making-workplaces-better-for-people-struggling-with-mental-health-will-make-work-better-for-everyone/Opens in new window.

9Segel and Coe, “Promoting mental wellness in the workplace.”

Related articles

An employee hands an envelope to another employee in an office.
Employee incentives for workplace wellness programs Opens in new window
A group of people are seated next to each other and having a discussion.
Group ideas for mental health Opens in new window