Addressing Behavioral Health Concerns in the Workplace

Did you know that between 25 percent and half of U.S. adults will have a behavioral health condition during their lifetime? Well, it’s true. Yet employers continue to focus almost solely on their workers’ physical health. This can result in sicker employees, increased healthcare costs, more absenteeism, and less workplace productivity.

It’s a problem that you must confront if you haven’t already. Here’s what you should know about behavioral health concerns in the workplace, particularly during the pandemic.

The Issue

Emphasizing physical problems to the near exclusion of behavioral health concerns cost the nation $250 billion in productivity. This is occurring even though 14 percent of those who belong to a group health plan have medical as well as behavioral conditions, according to United Healthcare. On the other hand, workers who have had a mental health diagnosis, for instance, and who receive treatment, are 26 percent less likely to miss work and are 36 percent less likely to be unengaged.

Mental Health and the Pandemic

The lack of employer attention to behavioral health was a problem even before the pandemic. What COVID-19 has done is underscore the issue. In fact, according to Oracle, the pandemic has affected a whopping 78 percent of the global workforce, and 76 percent of employees think organizations should be working harder to support their workers’ mental health.

Here are more data: some 70 percent of individuals experienced more workplace stress and anxiety in 2020 than ever. Such conditions caused, and continues to cause, even more stress, a non-existent work-life balance, loneliness, burnout, and depression.

All of this is in addition to everyday workplace challenges such as handling routine duties, meeting performance standards, and coping with increased workloads. This is where behavioral health consultants such as Mercer come in. More on that later.

The Blurring of Home and Work Life

As much as you may not want to think it so, people do bring their problems to work. That was true before, and it’s even more pervasive today. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues, and that’s being felt on the job as well as at home.

That Oracle study revealed that some 85 percent of individuals say that mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression deleteriously affect their home life. Such consequences include less sleep, lower levels of at-home happiness, poorer familial relations, and increased isolation from friends.

The Fallout from Remote Work

Remote work has nearly erased the line between personal and professional lives. In fact, the study found that 35 percent of people were working more than 40 hours weekly and a quarter of them have reported burn out.

Still, some 62 percent of respondents reported liking remote work more than they did before the pandemic, citing more family time, more sleep, and more productivity.

Adaptation

Employers are taking notice, as 51 percent of people surveyed said the pandemic has caused their organization to add mental health services or support. Still, 42 percent of people reported low productivity due to workplace stress, anxiety, or depression.

Answers

Addressing behavioral health concerns in the workplace requires exterior help that will help you put together a strategy that will improve both employee outcomes and your organizational performance. This means an approach that reshapes how you provide benefits and how you support your workforce in terms of their health and wellbeing.

We’ve mentioned the consultant Mercer, which can offer novel, customized solutions designed to meet your and your employees’ needs. The result will be lower care costs and a more resilient, productive workforce.

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