October/November 2021  Volume 19, Number 5        
 

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Mental Health Recognized as Significant Workplace Issue

70% of employers report mental health challenges among their employees, 52% report substance misuse or addiction, and 72% say mental health stigma blocks care.

These are some of the findings in new research provided by The Hartford, a workers compensation insurance company.

While the national study showed employers have strived to support workforce well-being and foster a more compassionate workplace, employers and workers are divided in key areas about mental health in the workplace:

  • 80% of employers said their company culture has been more accepting of mental health challenges in the past year, but only 59% of workers agree.
  • 79% of employers said they have an open and inclusive environment that encourages a dialogue about mental health, compared to 52% of workers who agree.
  • 77% of employers said leadership at their company encourages conversations about mental health, compared to 56% of workers who agree; and
  • 78% of employers said workers have flexibility in their schedule to get the mental health help they need, but just 58% of employees agree about this flexibility.

These divergent perceptions indicate the pervasiveness and power of stigma, as well as the continued need for education and communication about mental illness and addiction.

Stigma’s Economic Cost

The research also showed the economic impact of untreated conditions due to stigma. One-third of U.S. employers (31%) said the strain on employee mental health is having a severe or significant financial impact on their company, a 10-point increase from the March 2020 survey. The Hartford’s claims data demonstrates that untreated mental health and substance use disorders can lead to unplanned absences and prolonged disability. Mental health conditions are among the top five reasons for U.S. workers to file a short-term disability claim, according to The Hartford’s disability claims data (excluding pregnancy). A person diagnosed with a primary injury or illness, along with the presence of mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, takes two to three times longer to recover than someone with similar injuries or illness without those conditions.

“The recent research from The Hartford is encouraging and shows U.S. employers are concerned for their employees’ mental health,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “We are acutely aware that the need for mental health services is only increasing and reducing stigma in the workplace is paramount to improving the lives of employees. Mental health support in the workplace is a win-win for both workers and businesses.”

How To Be Stigma-Free

To help foster an open and inclusive work culture, The Hartford and NAMI recommend employers and workers:

  • Learn more about mental health conditions and substance use disorder. Nearly half of adults with a substance use disorder also have a mental illness.
  • Use respectful and first-person language to talk about mental illness and addiction, avoiding harmful words that perpetuate stigma; and
  • Offer support if you think someone is having trouble. The NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI provides information regarding available resources. If someone is in a crisis, text "NAMI" to 741741 crisis support via text message available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Employers can also:

  • Provide mental health training to managers and senior leaders that includes information about mental illnesses, potential warning signs, and stigmatizing language guidelines.
  • Offer an Employee Assistance Program, as well as sleep management, mindfulness, or other programs that help improve mental and physical health; and
  • Communicate often, year-round about benefits and programs that support overall well-being. With additional communication, employees can more easily access the benefits and resources when the need arises.

“We are encouraged our survey showed a majority of employers and employees think mental health will become less stigmatized in the workplace as a result of the pandemic,” said Christopher Swift, Chairman and CEO of The Hartford. “Mental health matters now more than ever. Together with NAMI, we remain committed to eradicating stigma that threatens human achievement so that more people can prevail.”

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In this issue:

This Just In...

OSHA Urges Employers to Require Vaccinations

Updates on “Long Haul COVID” Claims

Mental Health Recognized as Significant Workplace Issue

Workers Comp Basics: Disability Apportionment

 

 


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