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Mental Illness Awareness Week: Offering support in the workplace is a win-win opportunity

By Accolade | October 4, 2022 | 4 min read

Mental illness awareness week is an ideal time to acknowledge that mental health issues can impact everyone, directly or indirectly, through family, friends and employees. At least one in five U.S. adults experience one or more common mental illness symptoms in any given year[1]. And it affects not just the family environment, but can also creep into the workplace, impacting the way our employees function and perform at work. 

According to the National Safety Council, employees experiencing mental distress use, on average, nearly $3,000 more in health care services per year than their peers.[2] By providing integrated mental health as part of your healthcare plan, you can help your people be more productive and happier at work all while reducing your healthcare costs. If you’re struggling with where to begin, here is a roundup of tips and resources to help your people get the mental health services they need when they need it most.  

Remove the stigma of mental health in the workplace  

Your leaders and executive teams can play a major role in ensuring your employees are utilizing all the resources available to them to get the support they need. One key to this is removing the stigma around talking about mental health in the workplace and opening the door to meaningful conversations about your employees’ well-being. After all, mental health is important. Learn more about the five habits executives and leaders can adopt to provide a positive work environment and good mental health for all employees leading.

Communicate with your employees about mental healthcare  

Conversations regarding behavioral health can be very difficult — especially in the workplace. It can be hard to even know where to start with these conversations. Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD and chief strategy officer at Well Being Trust, shared his expertise on how organizations can take a proactive approach to mental health discussions with their employees. Dr. Miller provided four tips you can implement right away to help ensure these talks are positive, open and don’t get too awkward.

Mental health and DEI must be included in your benefits strategy   

Your people’s mental health as well as the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies of your organization play a major role in their job performance, productivity and engagement. Mental illnesses, such as depression, can lead to higher rates of unemployment and disability.[3] Meanwhile, the DEI of your organization will impact the healthcare experience, outcomes and costs for your business.   

The bottom line is that it can become costly if your organization doesn’t provide equitable whole-person care. Learn why it’s important to include mental health and DEI in your benefits strategy.

  

Employers can help remove barriers to mental healthcare 

Mental illness is so common in the U.S. that nearly one in five adults — roughly 52.9 million people — has been diagnosed with a mental health condition.[4] This costs employers more than $100 billion and resulted in 217 million workdays lost per year.[5] We also know that poor mental health can negatively affect job performance, productivity and engagement. So why are these numbers so high? Despite your people knowing the importance of taking care of their mental health, they may be facing barriers to receiving the mental healthcare they need. Learn about the top four barriers to mental healthcare and how employers can help their people overcome them.

Everyone deserves access to excellent primary and mental healthcare 

At Accolade, we believe everyone deserves access to excellent primary and mental healthcare. That’s why we’ve launched Accolade Care to address physical health and mental wellness from a holistic perspective to obtain optimal outcomes. Read more about how Accolade upholds the four pillars — contact, continuity, comprehensiveness and coordination — we see as necessary in delivering quality primary care with integrated mental health.

Integrated mental health to support your entire organization  

Being mentally healthy is so important because it allows your people the opportunity to face the mental health problems they experience at home and at work. By supporting your employees’ mental health, you can benefit them on an individual level while simultaneously supporting your company as a whole.   

Consider providing your people with a collaborative mental healthcare model that integrates physical and mental health. It will provide your employees a complete and supportive experience when they need it most.  

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you are having suicidal thoughts or are in emotional distress. 

[1] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics 

[2] https://www.nsc.org/newsroom/new-mental-health-cost-calculator-demonstrates-why

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html 

[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness

[5] https://hbr.org/2022/01/11-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2022-and-beyond 

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