For many people, work is a core component of their lives, as the average person spending a third of their life at work. Work can have a positive impact on wellbeing, but can also adversely affect the physical and emotional health of employees. Businesses have already been recognizing the importance of workplace culture and the work environment on wellbeing, but a wealth of global studies and surveys are now shining a bright light on the relationship between work and employee mental health.

Workplace mental health is pivotal to not only individual health but also the health of businesses and the overall population. A mentally healthy workplace is more productive, with less absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present but not fully productive). 

HR professionals hold a unique position in improving mental wellness in the workplace. By implementing inclusive policies, providing comprehensive benefits, offering education and support, and continually evaluating their efforts, HR leaders can create a workplace culture that prioritizes mental wellbeing for all employees, including women and their families.

The essential role of HR in promoting mental health at work

Human resources departments are responsible for developing and implementing policies that support mental health in the workplace. To ensure policies hit the mark, it's imperative to understand the struggles that employees face.

Understanding the scope of mental health issues

According to the American Psychological Association's 2022 Work and Wellbeing Survey, 71% of workers feel that their employer is more concerned about employee mental health than they were in the past. However, there is still sizable room for improvement.

77% of employees report experiencing work-related stress in the last month. 19% of workers describe their workplace as toxic and those that do are twice as likely to report their mental health as fair or poor. Moreover, depression ranks in the top three workplace problems for HR leaders, with nearly a quarter of the workforce receiving a mental illness diagnosis at some point in their lives.

It's important to note that mental health issues do not impact the working population evenly. For example, women are more likely to report poor or fair mental health than men, while workers under the age of 30 are nearly three times more likely to report poor or fair mental health than those aged 50-64.

Employee mental health struggles obviously adversely impact those experiencing them. However, they also affect the wider workforce and business. For instance, 26% of those who have experienced workplace-related stress say they didn't feel motivated to do their very best, 20% reported lower productivity, and 19% said they had felt irritable or angry with colleagues and customers. In addition, nearly 40% of total turnover costs can now be attributed to mental health issues and 81% of employees say that when seeking future job opportunities, they will be looking for workplaces that offer better mental health support.

The importance of addressing mental health along the reproductive health journey

A thorough awareness of employee mental health issues involves acknowledging and understanding how different life circumstances affect wellbeing. Reproductive health, fertility journeys, and parenthood are areas in which support is crucial. It’s estimated that 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the US experience fertility problems, 15 million women in the U.S. work full-time and may be navigating the symptoms of menopause, and that in 46% of two-parent families, both parents work full-time. 

The impact of these situations on employees' emotional health is staggering:

These insights are a clear indication that mental health concerns among employees starting and raising families are a widespread problem. As HR leaders are pivotal in employees' access to healthcare and mental health resources, the impetus falls on them to help employees tackle these problems with proactive and robust support. However, for any support to be effective, it must meet the diverse and ever-changing needs of employees throughout different stages of their lives.

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Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

Strategies for HR to support mental health challenges

HR professionals have a vital role in fostering a workplace culture that can provide support and access to resources to ensure the wellbeing of the team. The initiatives you implement will vary depending on the nature and demographics of your workplace. Here are some effective strategies that any HR department can use to support mental wellness in the workplace:

Creating an open and inclusive culture

Leadership sets the tone for an organization's culture. Encourage managers to openly discuss mental health in a professional yet warm way, lead by example in prioritizing self-care, and demonstrate empathy and understanding towards employees.

Encourage open communication about mental health by normalizing conversations, sharing personal stories, and creating platforms for employees to talk about their experiences. Provide resources to employees throughout the organization that increase awareness about mental health issues and offer advice on how to better health among individuals and the workforce. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a supportive environment where workers feel safe to discuss their concerns without fear of judgment or stigma.

Implementing comprehensive wellness programs alongside women's and family health benefits

Benefits packages and employee assistance programs (EAPs) are an effective way to support mental health. Offer comprehensive wellness programs and benefits packages that include mental health support services such as counseling, therapy, stress management workshops, and psychiatric care, as well as holistic wellbeing services and self-care practices such as stress management techniques.

Ensure that when developing any benefits package, you consider the unique needs of all employee demographics, including women and their families, incorporating coverage for maternal mental health, pediatric support, and flexible work arrangements to accommodate parental responsibilities and promote a healthy work-life balance.

Leverage telehealth services and digital platforms like Maven to provide convenient access to mental health resources. Our innovative online health platform offers virtual counseling sessions, webinars, and a wealth of resources tailored to women's health and family needs, ensuring accessibility and convenience for employees. Our range of programs are specially tailored to provide expert support from mental health professionals at different stages of life including fertility and family building, maternity and newborn care, parenting and pediatrics, and menopause and midlife health support.

Training and resources for managers

Facilitate training sessions for managers to educate them on recognizing and responding to mental health issues in the workplace. Offer guidance on how to have supportive conversations with employees, identify signs of distress, and effectively refer individuals to appropriate mental health resources and services.

Share information about support programs available to employees, including EAPs, employee mental health benefits, mental health hotlines, internal and external mental health initiatives, and online self-help tools. Collaborate with third parties and mental health professionals to provide specialized training and workshops for managers.

Measuring the impact of mental health initiatives

As HR professionals, it's essential to measure the effectiveness of mental health initiatives to ensure they are positively impacting employee wellbeing and organizational outcomes.

Key metrics to track

Employee engagement

Monitor employee engagement levels to gauge how well mental health initiatives are resonating with your workforce. Higher engagement levels may indicate that employees feel supported and valued, contributing to overall wellbeing.

Utilization of resources

Track the utilization of mental health resources and benefits, such as counseling sessions, EAP services, and wellness programs. Analyzing usage patterns can help identify areas of high demand and areas that require additional promotion or support.

Absenteeism and presenteeism

Measure absenteeism rates and presenteeism (when employees are present but not fully productive) to assess the impact of mental health on workplace attendance and productivity. A decrease in absenteeism and presenteeism may indicate improved mental health support and reduced stigma.

Performance and productivity

Evaluate changes in employee performance and productivity over time, comparing pre- and post-implementation of mental health initiatives. Look for correlations between support and improvements in job performance, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

Continuously improving your approach

Implement anonymous surveys and feedback loops to gather insights from employees about their experiences with mental health programs. Encourage honest feedback about what is working well and areas for improvement. Anonymous surveys provide a safe space for employees to share their thoughts without fear of repercussions.

Keep up-to-date with new research and best practices in mental health support to adapt and evolve initiatives within your organization accordingly. Regularly review feedback from employees, benchmark against industry standards, and collaborate with mental health experts to refine your approach. Flexibility and agility are key to addressing the changing needs of your workforce.

Foster a culture of open communication and ongoing dialogue with employees about their mental health needs and preferences. Hold regular check-ins, meetings, and focus groups to solicit feedback, share updates on employee mental health initiatives, and address any concerns or questions. Actively involving workers in the decision-making process empowers them to take ownership of their mental wellbeing.

By measuring the impact of mental health initiatives and continuously improving your approach based on feedback and new research, human resources can create a workplace environment that prioritizes employee wellbeing and fosters a culture of support and resilience.

Support mental health along the reproductive health journey with Maven

HR professionals are perfectly positioned to drive positive change within their organizations, promoting good mental health for employees, elevating workplace culture and ensuring great ROIs. However, this doesn't have to be done alone. Partnering with experts like Maven can improve outcomes for all. Together, we can build healthier and happier workplaces for everyone including working parents, women in the workforce, and their families.

33% of Maven members report that they can better manage their depression and anxiety, and more than 40% of members have found emotional support through Maven’s 1:1 mental health coaching. In Maven’s Menopause program, 37% of members reported reduced depressive moods, and 44% of members reported reduced anxiety. The benefits extend beyond the employee: on average, employers see a 4:1 business return on their investment.

If you're an employer who wants to begin assessing and enhancing your organization's mental health benefits with Maven, book a demo today

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