For the past few years, the state of workplace mental health has been on the decline. To explore workers’ experiences around mental health at work, in 2019, Mind Share Partners began conducting an annual study of 1,500 full-time U.S. workers. Each study includes statistically significant representation from historically marginalized populations, including women, people of color and LGBTQ+ workers.
While the annual findings have been bleak in recent years, this year’s study has a few bright spots, including a 20% decline in respondents reporting mental health symptoms. Workers and employers are also showing greater awareness around mental health at work, with many employers offering expanded benefits, access to meditation apps, mindfulness programs, mental health days and awareness campaigns that educate and provide support for employees. Below are some helpful findings from the report:
Employers are shifting out of crisis mode. In Mind Share Partners’ 2021 report, workplace mental health was at a tipping point with a whopping 76 percent of workers reporting negative mental health symptoms. In 2023, workers still report some mental health difficulties, but they are experiencing fewer symptoms. As the U.S. has emerged from the pandemic and other crises, it seems that some workers’ mental health challenges are less severe.
Investments in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are improving mental health. The 2023 study found that women, Gen Z workers, Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ workers have worse mental health outcomes than their peers. However, respondents who felt that their employer supported their identity displayed better mental health outcomes. These workers were overall more engaged and committed to their employer than those who didn’t feel supported.
Healthy organizational culture matters as much as therapy. In the past, the employer approach to mental health services has largely focused on individual support, such as access to therapy and more time off. This year, survey respondents noted that while they do want access to mental health treatment and self-care resources, they also highly value a supportive culture for mental health and a healthy culture of work. Find a list of helpful self-care resources from My Vanderbilt Health here [insert link to resources].
Overall, the 2023 report shows what many employers have always known—there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting workers’ mental and emotional wellbeing. Creating a mentally healthy workplace requires a deep understanding of your organization and what employees ultimately want. This can be achieved by surveying employees about their perspective on mental wellness and using that information to enact real, meaningful change in your organization.
Check out this blog post for educational resources on behavioral health that may help your workforce. Feel free to share with your employees and their families.