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The $1 Trillion Reason Why Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace Should Matter to You

Benefits of mental health awareness in the workplace
The benefits of mental health awareness and wellbeing in the workplace can save over $1 trillion.

Often, the narrative around mental health awareness and wellbeing in the workplace is that its benefits reach only as far as employees. However, this could not be further from the truth. On Mental Health Awareness month in 2024, the statistics, data and trends all seem to suggest that mental health wellbeing is not only important for employees, but could be of great benefit to employers as well.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 12 billion working days are lost each year due to employees dealing with depression and anxiety. Of course, the impact on employees is paramount, and must be addressed immediately. Furthermore, the impact on employers and organizations is what’s truly stunning. A WHO report estimated the true cost of poor mental health in the workplace to be approximately $1 trillion.

So, do employers and companies need to take mental health awareness and wellbeing more seriously?

Why take mental health awareness seriously?

We certainly believe so. Some industry, thought and culture leaders have already taken steps to address this. Organizations and employers around the world can learn from these initiatives. Furthermore, they can implement iterations of these programs that work with their respective companies.

In 2023, Koa Health partnered with SteadyMD to offer a comprehensive approach to mental health wellbeing and awareness in the workplace. Speaking about the collaborative effort, Guy Friedman, co-founder and CEO of SteadyMD said:

“Having easy access to effective and personalized digital mental healthcare is vitally important to patients, which is why we’re proud to partner with Koa Health to deliver it.”

SteadyMD’s telemedicine services will be integrated into Koa Health’s complete care platform, Koa Care 360. Koa’s holistic care approach, designed to assist employees quickly navigate to the correct mental healthcare at the right time.

Koa Health’s CEO and founder Dr. Oliver Harrison aptly described the benefits of such a collaboration, and the effect it has on employees, saying:

“Koa Care 360 is for everyone from members of your team who need clinical care to the ‘missing middle,’ the 75% of the workforce who prefer to access support on their own terms.  With a prevention-first approach to personalized, precision care, Koa Care 360 lowers barriers to entry and reduces downstream costs with easy-to-access human and digitally-enabled services provided by Koa Health with support from SteadyMD across the full continuum of mental health, from everyday challenges to long-term struggles, helping people thrive at work, at home, and everywhere else.”

Mental health wellbeing is trending 

Another SaaS company working hard to ensure their employees are aware of mental health challenges and how to ensure wellbeing is Cockroach Labs. One of their biggest initiatives is their partnership with Spring Health and an Employee Assistance Program to provide free counselling and mental health support for their team. The company also provides flexible hours and remote work options, as well as a casual dress code, volunteer activities, pet-friendly offices, and complimentary food and beverages.

Clearly, some companies take mental health awareness and wellbeing very seriously. We hope that even more organizations prioritize the mental health of their employees, since, as seen before, it can directly lead to higher productivity and lesser missed days. To help organizations around the world, we will highlight certain tools and resources that companies can use to start their initiatives.

How to start mental health programs for your employees?

Some of the best ways to start mental health programs at the individual level are as follows:

  • 1-on-1 sessions: This allows employees a confidential, anonymous and safe space for therapy support through dedicated mental health professionals.
  • Self-help programs: Access to short, intensive self-help programs and in-house expertise in the form of resources such as videos, blogs and visuals will help employees take their mental health in their own hands.
  • Individual assessments: Standardized tests will help address and offer insights into the mental health of employees. These can also be used to help track emotional health.
  • Check in calls: Periodic check in calls by professional mental health experts will engage employees, and offer them a safe outlet to express themselves.

At a group level, some initiatives that can be used are the following:

  • Manager sensitization: Workshops and webinars that will empower managers to empathize, use communication skills and recognize the stress of their employees is a great start.
  • Special interventions: Tailoring focus group interventions to address specific role-based challenges that may affect certain teams of employees.

Furthermore, to initiate mental health awareness and wellbeing programs at the company level, there are a few more ideas that could certainly be helpful:

  • Webinars and workshops: Conducting webinars/workshops by mental health experts for sensitization, workplace challenges & emotion management.
  • Weekly awareness: Creation of weekly mental health awareness resources such as flyers, videos, digital banners and events would greatly benefit mental health wellbeing on a company level.
  • Company-level assessment: Evaluating stress, anxiety, depression and burnout can provide a comprehensive segment wise report with actionable insights.

One resource that helps with all of the mental health awareness pointers above is BetterLyf. The company aims to empower you and your teams with the support necessary to cultivate an overall culture of mental health wellbeing.

Other helpful mental health resources

If you’re looking for more mental health service providers, here’s a list of companies and how their specific offerings can help your respective organizations.

One such company is Spring Health. Based out of New York, the 2016-founded company offers customized mental healthcare plans for employees and people that need treatment. They utilize data from previous customers who have received treatment – all kept anonymous – to help determine the best course of treatment for employees. Some examples of treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and EAP.

Meru Health, based out of Silicon Valley, is one of the biggest players in the mental health industry. Their offerings, in addition to talk therapy, includes a wearable device. The gadget is at the cutting edge of technological advancements in this field. The wearable tracks users’ stress response and heart rate in order to create a path towards mental health wellbeing.

One company bringing a revolutionary new mental health wellbeing product is Nue Life. The company based out of Miami brings ketamine therapy to mental health recovery. These are completely legal, FDA approved and also can be home delivered directly to the user. Nue Life is also working tirelessly to help symptoms of depression, anxiety and more.

Real success stories of workplace initiatives

Now that we’ve discussed possible ways of improving mental health awareness in your companies across all levels (individual, group and company), it’s important we go through some of the success stories that have come out as a result of the adoption of mental health wellbeing initiatives. Hopefully this will motivate you and your employees to take mental health awareness more seriously!

Palo Alto Networks is one such company that have a wealth of success stories when it comes to their mental health awareness and wellbeing programs. The IT security business has teamed with Modern Health. They provide counselling and mental health options to employees and their qualifying families via an employee support program. Additionally, the company provides a $1,000 annual stipend for things that improve general employee wellness through its FLEXBenefits program. Speaking about the benefits of such a program, Edward Hall, an employee at Palo Alto Networks said:

“Overall, FLEXBenefits make a difference because you’re able to do something outside of work. And I think that’s beneficial because you get to take your mind off whatever it is that you’re thinking about while you’re working and just be able to relax and have fun.”

Interestingly, the FLEXBenefits program also covers hobbies such as video gaming. Another employee, Rees Scott, shared:

“I think of video games as an escape. While physical health is, of course, important, mental health is just as important and, for me, video games have been one of the best ways I’ve found to relax. Many of my colleagues also have a passion for playing, and this has been a way for us to connect and enjoy time together. And after the last year and a half we’ve all experienced, who couldn’t use some of that?”

Ensure your employees’ wellbeing with us!

So, this Mental Health Awareness month, it’s clear to see that such programs help employees. They also boost the company’s overall productivity and could have a positive impact on employee retention rates as well.

If you or your company have employed mental health awareness and wellbeing initiatives of your own, please share them with us! We’d love to get to know more. Tell us how you’re positively impacting employees!

If you’d like to connect with mental health awareness and wellbeing service providers, feel free to reach out to us! We’d love to help you out.