November 08, 2022
For better or worse, the pandemic has transformed the way we live, work and do business. Our behaviors changed. The economy shrank. We stayed in more. And those of us who could do our jobs remotely discovered the power of owning our time. But as life returns to some semblance of normal, it looks like some of these changes are here to stay.
Of the many shifts that occurred over the past two years, perhaps one of the most important and surprising was a renewed interest in mental health. Studies show anxiety and depression increased six-fold during the pandemic, while the American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being Survey revealed that job-related stress reached an all-time high. This has harmed our mental wellness and cost companies billions in lost productivity.
Some of these problems we’re still dealing with today, but it's clear that the organizations that have fared best are those that have learned to adapt. Instead of doubling down on failed strategies, they’ve chosen to cultivate an atmosphere of empathy, develop new tools to meet workers’ needs and offer accessible, holistic mental health support. As more employers begin to see the link between mental wellness and overall performance, they’re going the extra mile to measure and improve mental health at all organizational levels.
Research has found that those who care the most about employee well-being are more likely to exceed financial targets, making mental health more than an HR issue. It’s a business imperative that’s a win-win for both companies and the people that work there.
Making Mental Health a Top Priority
Until now, mental health support has been seen as a benefit more than a necessity. It was often tacked on to existing health care plans with little foresight and poorly integrated, making many services inaccessible or ineffective. Or, it was offered in the form of employee-assistance programs (EAPs), which are rarely used due to the stigma of asking for help. Besides, managers were constantly worried about program budgets.
However, we’ve since seen a complete 180 as businesses change their stance on mental health. With the spotlight on the importance of mental wellness and the costs of ignoring it adding up for both employers and their employees, more companies are making money available to invest in holistic mental health programs. Not only does this create a more supportive workplace, it also leads to higher levels of productivity and innovation.
Some of the ways that companies are helping employees find the perfect balance of mental wellness include creating a more compassionate work culture, introducing flexible hours, offering mental health days and supplementing existing EAPs. Other tools and technology platforms are also filling in the gaps, from meditation and mindfulness apps to telehealth services like Sokya that make mental health more accessible.
Sokya provides a complete circle of care that employers can offer to help workers get mental health support at their own convenience. Our services are available online, in-person or through our mobile app and connect people to psychiatrists, therapists, coaches and clinicians with the right training to meet their needs. Together, we can provide personalized and engaging mental wellness options to create a happier, healthier workplace.
Mental Health Initiatives in Action
Leading companies across multiple industries have taken steps to address the mental health needs of their employees. Whether this includes utilizing telehealth services, appointing leaders to monitor mental wellness or expanding benefits, these changes represent a positive change in the way we think about mental health at work.
At Microsoft, employees are encouraged to talk openly about their mental wellness. This happened organically as those in leadership positions began to tell stories about their own personal struggles, showing others that it was OK to do the same. The company also offers Microsoft Cares, a mental health initiative that provides counseling and support groups to employees online, in person or over the phone.
Pinterest has created an internal community that hosts wellness-focused events for employees and serves as a forum to talk about mental health challenges in the workplace. Since being created in 2020, this group has hosted health professionals, topic experts and other speakers to lead meaningful discussions. Employees can also participate in virtual sessions to share information on their own areas of expertise.
Unilever has tackled mental health from a number of angles to create a culture where talking about things like anxiety, depression and stress is no longer stigmatized. Some of the ways they’ve accomplished this include mindfulness workshops and increased mental health training for managers. They’ve also created an app that gives employees access to health assessments, information and urgent assistance whenever they need it. To track the progress of these initiatives, they’ve invested in analytics to help them see what’s working and what isn’t.
Creating a Genuinely Happy, Healthy Workplace
According to industry trend reports, up to 90% of employers now say they’re investing more in mental health programs. Much of this is driven by employee demand, which has also created renewed interest in remote and digital telehealth offerings. Both workers and their employers have come to appreciate the flexible, cost-effective and on-demand capabilities of online mental health platforms, with many now viewing this benefit as indispensable.
Offering new tools and resources is just one piece of the puzzle, however. Providing a truly happy workplace that supports mental wellness means promoting a compassionate environment and looking at employees’ experiences more holistically. As study after study shows the importance of making mental health a priority for companies and individuals, it's time to see it for the business imperative it is while recognizing that it’s the right thing to do.
People everywhere have started to recognize the importance of mental wellness in all areas of life, including the workplace. Good mental health helps employees stay resilient and manage stress while avoiding issues like burnout, which can have a negative impact on both companies and individuals. Sokya offers a complete and convenient circle of mental wellness solutions that can help employers prioritize mental health in the workplace with increased access to therapists, medication, support groups and more. To learn more, call Sokya at (866) 657-6592.