Today's employees are managing a range of mental health challenges in and out of the workplace: the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 24/7 news cycle, massive shifts to remote or hybrid workplace models, and much more. Mental health, a critical touchpoint in a whole-person care model of healthcare, is top of mind for so many.
In fact, employees increasingly expect ongoing engagement from employers that supports their mental wellbeing — delivered via wellness apps and other digital tools — as part of their overall wellness. Show employees they don’t have to go it alone in managing their mental health by providing them with meaningful, proactive support through regular mental health checkups — the first step in creating a more engaged, productive, and overall healthier workforce.
What Does Mental Health Look Like Today?
We know that anxiety or depression can negatively impact the work environment for employees and employers, and have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McLean Hospital, mental health conditions like these are linked with increased absences, working while sick, and turnover — undermining productivity and increasing costs for businesses.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost 20% of American adults experience some form of mental illness each year. These often-hidden conditions can even affect your employees' physical health. Harvard Medical School, for example, notes that treating anxiety can also help manage chronic diseases.
The impact of the pandemic and social turmoil makes supporting employees facing stress and anxiety more important than ever. This is especially important for historically underrepresented workers who tend to struggle most with mental health challenges, according to the Harvard Business Review.
A solid mental health checkup program can have a transformative impact, serving as the foundation for cultural change at your organization. It can move you toward achieving a sustainable and mentally healthy workplace that supports employees and their whole health as they face unique and diverse challenges.
Why Mental Health Checkups Are Essential To Whole-Person Care
Mental health screenings are similar to visits with a primary care doctor. They diagnose problems and help patients address them — increasingly important as your employees navigate stressors both inside and outside the workplace. Today's employees want to address their health from an integrated care perspective — one that doesn't silo off mental health from overall wellbeing.
Checkups can show that an employee would benefit from counseling or the support of a psychologist or other specialist. A doctor or other healthcare professional will ask about changes in feelings, mood, behavioral patterns, or other symptoms. Depending on the responses, they may request tests to find out if a related physical issue could be at play. If issues are diagnosed, there are tools that increase holistic wellness, including exercise or yoga, medication, counseling, and education sessions.
These regular check-ins, offered both in person and virtually through innovative telehealth tools, increasingly align with employee needs and preferences — helping reduce the stigma around mental health and positioning it as a normal part of wellness at your organization and a foundation of your approach to integrated care.
How Employers Can Meaningfully Encourage Mental Health Checkups
Encouraging mental health checkups with your employees will likely be a challenge, at least at first. A recent Paychex study, Mental Health at Work During COVID-19, found that more than half of employees were uncomfortable talking to managers or supervisors about mental health. Still, employers play an important role in connecting employees with empathetic solutions and proactive support to deliver care in simpler, more effective, and more affordable ways.
Companies may also choose to offer whole-person care services as part of their ongoing wellness program initiatives, including:
Employers can take a proactive approach to encourage employees to seek the right care at the right time. When you remove the stigma around mental health with open and honest conversations, it's more likely employees will embrace the idea and seek professional support.
This emphasis on mental wellness and care will not only enhance employees' careers and improve their daily lives, but will also benefit your work culture and community, helping you align with the preferences of up-and-coming generations of workers.