Given that mental health issues can impact every part of life, it should come as no surprise that a business’s success depends in part on the mental health of its workers. Successful businesses increasingly care about their employees’ mental healthiness, and, as it turns out, employees are increasingly expecting that support.
Workplace Options, a global provider of integrated employee well-being services, recently analyzed three years of data from its Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). The company found something surprising: while employees continued to reach out to its programs for assistance with personal emotional health issues at a fairly consistent rate, the types of cases it deals with have shifted dramatically.
Approximately 40 percent of cases for each year between 2012 and 2014 related to personal emotional health issues, but those relating to stress, anxiety and depression increased dramatically. Cases involving stress increasing by 28 percent, depression increased by 58 percent, and anxiety increased by an alarming 74 percent.
It may sound like employees around the world are dealing with drastically more serious mental health concerns, but there’s a positive side to these numbers.
“The red flag here for the business community is the nature of the calls and inquiries that we are getting from across the world,” Debnam explained. “while the percentage of cases dealing with personal emotional health issues is relatively unchanged, the issues we’re dealing with has become much more severe over the past three years.”
“This can mean a couple of different things,” he continued. “More and more employees across the world are obviously struggling with very serious emotional health issues, but the silver lining is that among those struggling, more and more appear to be willing to reach out for help.”
The stigma surrounding mental health issues has traditionally made reaching out for help a fraught prospect, particularly in the workplace where one’s career could feel the impact. Workplace Options examined a data set that spanned over 100,000 employees in 5 global regions, so it appears that workers around the world are increasingly willing to seek help from employee assistance programs for serious mental health concerns.
“This is one of the first analyses that details the changing way employees across the world are using their EAP programs,” Debnam said. “The issues we help people through today are far different than they were in the past – and businesses around the world need to carefully consider whether they have the right support structures in place that will allow their employees to prosper.”