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4 top takeaways from the 2023 State of Workforce Mental Health Report

By Lyra, an Accolade Trusted Partner | May 23, 2023 | 4 min read

The world has experienced extraordinary changes over the past few years, and the workplace is no exception. Collective trauma from the pandemic, climate disruptions, political strife and workplace stress and burnout have brought the link between work and well-being into the global spotlight.

The changes the pandemic provoked have also led more workers to view employer-provided mental health support as a right, not just a perk. As the World Health Organization noted, “Working people, like all people, deserve an inherent right to the highest attainable standard of mental health at work, regardless of their type of employment.”

To better understand more about employers' and employees’ experiences and attitudes related to mental health in today’s world of work, Lyra Health surveyed over 2,500 employees and 250 employee benefits leaders across the United States. What follows are four key insights from the survey data.

1. Most workers face mental health struggles, but many don’t get help

Mental health challenges affect just about everyone. Of the 2,500 employees who responded to Lyra’s survey, 86% faced at least one mental health challenge in the past year, ranging from issues like stress and relationship problems to chronic depression and anxiety, substance use disorder and suicidal thoughts. Yet just 33% said they received mental health support last year, which included seeing a therapist or psychiatrist, and using self-care resources such as stress reduction apps.

The survey findings and external research shed some light on why this is happening. First, the pandemic exacerbated an existing shortage of mental health practitioners and long wait times in traditional health care networks and EAPs. A November 2022 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that six in 10 mental health providers aren’t taking new clients, and 72% have longer wait times than pre-pandemic. This forces a stark choice for many people: forgo care or pay a lot more for a mental health provider who is out of network or doesn’t take insurance.

2. Employees are increasingly stressed and burned out

Eighty percent of benefits leaders surveyed believe it’s an employer’s responsibility to prevent workers from developing work-related mental health problems (such as burnout or work-related stress). And 67% of workers said they have a “healthy, balanced relationship” with their current job. On the other hand, employees said “work-related stress and burnout” was the second most common factor affecting their mental health over the past year, with 39% ranking it as one of their top three.

Survey responses from both employees and employers uncovered significant issues contributing to work-related stress. For example, 40% of employees either did not believe or were unsure whether their manager and company leaders promote and protect a psychologically safe workplace. And nearly one in three employees either disagreed with or were unsure whether they “have a manageable and achievable workload.”

3. More people are discussing mental health at work, propelling a culture shift

While mental health challenges have mounted over the past few years, a silver lining is that mental health is now part of the global conversation — and becoming more commonly discussed at work.

From 2021–2023, the percentage of workers who said mental health is discussed in at least one way in their workplace nearly doubled — whether through company-wide communications, team meetings, one-on-one meetings or peer-to-peer conversations. In fact, almost half of employees (47%) said their manager or supervisor helps them prioritize their mental health.

The data also shows that more employees are talking about their own mental health challenges in the workplace — doubling from 23% in 2021 to 46% in 2023. Of those who discussed their mental health, 75% did so with a peer, and 63% with a manager.

4. Managers lack needed mental health resources

Lyra’s survey data suggests that managers are doing their part to support their employees’ mental health, but it’s often under tough circumstances. Nearly two-thirds of supervisors surveyed feel their role has become more important and more difficult since the pandemic began, and they feel ill equipped to provide helpful support to their team members.

Only 53% of managers said they have the resources and training needed to cultivate a supportive work experience — despite the impact a difficult work experience can have on employee mental health. In contrast, 67% of benefits leaders said managers have these types of resources and training. Interestingly, 58% of employees said their manager or supervisor would benefit from a workforce mental health training program.

For more research findings, plus best practices from clinicians and organizational psychologists to address today’s top workforce mental health challenges, get the full report.

Lyra Health is part of Accolade's Trusted Partner Ecosystem, which exists to simplify benefits selection for our customers and drive a more integrated experience for our members.

Lyra helps leading companies improve access to effective, high-quality mental health care for their employees and their families. With Lyra’s innovative digital care platform and global provider network, members receive the best care and get better faster. Learn more about supporting the well-being of your employees and their families.

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