Heading into World Mental Health Day on October 10, large employers remain steadfast in supporting the mental and emotional well-being of employees and their families. This year’s theme is “making mental health and wellbeing a priority globally,” a sentiment shared by Business Group on Health members and employees alike, as illustrated by two large surveys that illuminate employee needs and how employers are responding.
Across the globe, employee mental health is declining. Over 700,000 people die by suicide every year across the globe, and more than 100,000 people died by drug overdose in the U.S. in 2021 – an all-time record. Gen Z reports the highest rates of anxiety and depression compared to prior generations.
Given these global mental health challenges, it is no surprise that nearly three- quarters of employees (73%) reported that they were moderately or severely stressed, according to the 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Report, which details responses from over 10,000 workers across five countries in North America and Europe. This stress surely contributes to the fact that just 44% of respondents rated their overall well-being positively, underscoring the significant need for employers and their partners to support employees and their families along their mental health journey.
What are large employers prioritizing now and in the future regarding mental and emotional well-being? According to Business Group on Health’s 2023 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, 85% of large employers will continue the expanded mental health benefits and coverage implemented since March 2020. Seventy-seven percent of employer respondents will provide no or low-cost virtual counseling for mental health, and 16% will limit or eliminate cost-sharing for mental health medications, directly addressing a finding from the 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Report showing that time and money are the biggest barriers to employees focusing on their well-being. Moreover, nearly half (48%) are working with their health plans and other vendors to expand mental health networks in 2023.
Benefits and well-being programs are critical to a comprehensive mental health and overall well-being strategy, but they are not sufficient. Employers are also focusing on office culture by providing flexibility in scheduling and workplace location for remote employees, as well as paid time off. Hiring practices are moving toward screening for empathy in management, and trainings are on the rise for employees and managers to support each other’s mental health.
World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for employers to showcase the many ways they’re prioritizing mental health for employees across the globe. It’s also a time to ask, “What isn’t yet a priority but should be?” and “How can I work with internal stakeholders and external partners to improve the well-being of my employees?” Listed below are resources available to Business Group on Health members to spark ideas on moving their mental health strategy forward.
Relevant 2022 Business Group on Health Resources
- Blog: The Case for Stepping up Suicide Prevention Efforts
- The Vital Role of Employers in Suicide Prevention and Postvention
- Blog: Mental Health Leadership Heading into 2022
- Substance Use Disorder: An Employer’s Strategy Resource
- Key Insights: 2022 Global Summit
- 6 Key Considerations When Assessing Global Capacity of Mental Health Providers