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Blue @ Work

Why you need to talk about mental health in the workplace

Don't avoid it, address it

This article was last updated on May 15, 2023.

Mental health challenges are affecting more people than ever before. Studies show that one in five adults experience a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year — with more than half going untreated External Site.

We know you’re concerned about your employees’ overall health and well-being. It’s a multifaceted challenge, and it can be difficult to address with employees, but you have help. Lead the conversation and break down stigma by creating a safer, more supportive and empathetic workplace for your employees. Use our Employer Conversation Guide Secure Site to start the conversation in the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit.

The costs of sidelining mental health in the workplace

Across the world, it's estimated that mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are resulting in 12 billion working days lost, adding up to one trillion dollars per year in lost productivity External Site.

Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employee job performance and productivity, engagement with one’s work, communication with coworkers, physical capability and daily functioning.

Given the soaring costs associated with mental health conditions as well as substance use disorder, and their negative impact on productivity, employers are under mounting pressure to provide better whole-person care to their employees. Millennials are also driving the need for better solutions. Studies show they’re suffering from more behavioral health challenges External Site than their parents or grandparents.

As the impact of mental health conditions continues to grow, building a healthy business model begins with addressing the mental health of your workforce.

Support your employees by talking about mental health

Conversations in the workplace around mental health can be difficult to navigate. This guide can help you make these conversations productive and supportive with teams and individuals.

How you can help your organization's mental health support system

When your employees are spending 40-plus hours in the workplace, there’s not a lot of extra time to deal with inter-office conflicts or sort through personal issues. Offering purposeful resources within your workplace ensures your employees feel supported.

  1. Start by increasing awareness about mental health topics.

    You can provide education and resources from national organizations like American Psychiatric Association External Site, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance External Site, Mental Health America External Site, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. External Site
  2. Offer training for all employees.

    Regardless of employee status in the company, everyone should have access to training to properly cope or help coworkers struggling with various mental health issues at work.
  3. Encourage work-life balance.

    If employees have medical appointments, want to avoid major traffic in a long commute, or be cautious with poor weather conditions — consider offering work-from-home or flexible hours. Having options in place may help prevent burnout.
  4. Provide an Employee Assistance Program.

    This is a great option to include within your workplace to provide free and confidential services External Site for employees dealing with work or personal issues.
  5. Consider employer consulting or well-being programs.

    These types of programs can support creating an environment within your workplace to promote healthy behaviors (e.g., financial, social, career, community, emotional, and physical well-being).

Bonus tip: Invest in a virtual visit service.

A virtual visit service — like one from Doctor On Demand® External Site — allows your employees to connect with licensed therapists, psychiatrists or certified coaches to cope with depression, relationship issues, workplace stress, trauma and loss, social anxiety or addictions — all from their mobile device. Get the Mental Health and Virtual Visits flyer Secure Site on the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit to download and share with your employees.

Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield account representative or email us at Send Email.