World Mental Health Day: Bringing Mental Health To The Top Of The Workplace Agenda

One third of people believe their workplace environment contributes to their mental health symptoms, according to research by Mind Share Partners.
  • Today is World Mental Health Day, which has been marked every year for almost three decades. It’s aim is to raise awareness and mobilize support for mental health issues.
  • One third of people believe their workplace environment contributes to their mental health symptoms, according to research by Mind Share Partners.
  • With anxiety, depression and eating disorders topping the list of problems, the workplace must offer a better system of support for people facing mental health issues.

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on the 10th of October, “with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.” World Mental Health Day was first marked in 1992 and it is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health.

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to bring attention to a problem that affects people on a daily basis. It’s intended to encourage people to speak up about their struggles and get access to the help they need. 

It’s time that mental health topics are destigmatized in a variety of contexts, because unlike physical illnesses, mental health issues are harder to diagnose and pinpoint. Destigmatizing can help people receive an early diagnosis and get the help they need in a timely matter. 

In the workplace, mental health is climbing to the top of the agenda.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “about 80% of adults with depression reported at least some difficulty with work, home, or social activities because of their depression symptoms.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 1 in 4 Americans manage a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. 

A recent research report by Mind Share Partners, argues that “individuals managing mental health conditions are associated with negative perceptions and stereotypes such as being irresponsible, incompetent, lazy, or dangerous.”

Due to mental health stigma, the report found, “two-thirds of workers hide their mental health condition from their colleagues. In fact, 95% of employees who have taken time off due to stress named another reason, such as an upset stomach or headache. As a result, 80% of workers with a mental health condition report that shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment despite its effectiveness in reducing symptoms.” 

Key Findings from Mind Share’s 2019 Mental Health at Work Report

  • Nearly 60% of respondents reported experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition in the past year.
  • 49% of those mental health conditions lasted from a month to the entire year. 
    • 28% reported their symptoms lasted 1-4 months.
    • 21% reported them lasting five months to an entire year. 
  • Mental health symptoms are equally prevalent across seniority levels. 
  • Less than half of respondents felt that mental health was a priority at their company. 
  • Almost 60% of people never talked to anyone at work about their mental health in the last year.
  • Less than half of mental health conversations that occur are rated as a positive experience. 
  • Less than a third of respondents feel comfortable asking for support. 
  • On the brighter side, 60% of respondents stated feeling comfortable giving support to their colleagues around mental health. 
  • Only half of employees know the right procedure to get support for mental health in the workplace.
  • 60% of respondents said their productivity at work is affected by their mental health. 
    • 29% reported having difficulty concentrating. 
    • 24% reported avoiding social activities.
    • 29% reported difficulty thinking, reasoning, or deciding.
    • 16% reported taking longer to do tasks. 
    • 14% reported being less responsive to email and other communications. 
  • One third of those believe their workplace environment contributed to their mental health symptoms.
  • 20% of respondents had voluntarily left roles in the past for mental health reasons. This number jumps to 50% among Millennials and 75% of Gen Z-ers when taking into account leaving due to mental health issues both voluntary and involuntary.
  • 85% believe that company culture  should support mental health in the form of trainings, information, and an open culture around mental health. 
  • Younger generations and the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience mental health symptoms for longer durations. 
  • These groups are also more open to diagnosis and treatment, as well as to talking about mental health in the workplace. 
  • The most common mental health symptoms experienced in the past year include anxiety (37%), depression (32%), and eating disorders (26%). 
  • Women were 27% more likely to report symptoms related to eating disorders and 26% are more likely to report symptoms consistent with anxiety-related conditions.
  • Men were 44% more likely to report symptoms of aggression. 
  • Gen Z-ers and Millennials were 3 and 4 times more likely to experience anxiety-related symptoms compared to Baby Boomers.
  • The LGBTQ+ population is 3x more likely to experience a mental health condition.

Getting Involved and Raising Awareness

The Mind Share Partners’ research found that there is a deep need for better support systems and workplace cultures for mental health.

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To help raise awareness about mental health, companies should create mental health policies, provide access to training and information, and — most importantly — nurture an environment where people feel safe and comfortable talking about mental health
Other ways companies can help nurture the mental health of their employees is by providing them with a connection to nature, providing alternatives to their commute to reduce stress and anxiety, nurturing a strong sense of community, and offering access to mental health inspired amenities.

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