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May 22, 2019

Mental health issues: Is your healthcare program helping or ignoring the problem?

Courtney Patt,

Erika Tollefson

Financial insecurity is having a profound effect on the mental health of your employees. In fact, it’s causing what amounts to an epidemic. Twenty-five percent of employees say they are struggling to make ends meet. One out every eight believe they could lose their job during the next year.

Two-thirds of your employees say that mental health affects their personal job security. And a full 90 percent of employees in their 20s say that mental health is affected by the cost of living.

Mental health issues result from or include stress: the stress of losing one’s job; the stress of managing from paycheck to paycheck; and the stress from family issues. In addition, minority stress affects many individuals: 81 percent of LGBT+ survey respondents experience mental health issues and 46 percent have been diagnosed with a problem, compared to 33 percent of non-LGBT+.

Mental health issues — primarily stress — often result in physical health problems. And that creates even more issues for the employees and the company.

Are you honestly dealing with the problem?
The Mercer and Business in the Community 2018 Mental Health at Work Report, which produced the numbers in this article, indicates that mental health problems in the workplace have reached epidemic proportions. And that means businesses need to urgently identify and address the root causes of those problems.

But while 85 percent of management agrees that helping employees with mental health issues is their responsibility, 64 percent say they put the interests of the company ahead of the wellbeing of the employees.

So, instead of enabling people to overcome the issues that are causing stress, subsequent mental health problems and eventually physical issues, employees are left on their own to deal with unhealthy working environments, toxic blame cultures, bullying, sexual harassment and more.

Culture is the key: What you could and should be doing to help
Do your managers lead in a positive or negative manner? Does the company enable employees to work in ways that help them thrive? Are you finding ways to radically change a culture of unreasonable demands, finger-pointing, sexual oppression and negative interactions?

Here are six fundamental management standards that will help employees manage work-related stress, which can then empower them to work through their mental health issues:

  1. Match skills and abilities to the demands of the job.

  2. Give employees some control over their work, including workloads and deadlines.

  3. Encourage relationships among employees to foster better working conditions.

  4. Clearly define roles and objectives for the employees.

  5. Communicate the need for change, how it’s being managed, and the anticipated results.

  6. Actively support employees — direct from managers or providing the right support.

Address the root causes. Destigmatize the problems. ASAP
Employers can no longer afford to ignore mental health problems and their effects. The underlying factors that drive this epidemic — from financial insecurity to poor management to toxic cultures — must be addressed now, rather than later

The professionals at Marsh McLennan can help you analyze your corporate culture and make recommendations on how you can create change and avoid a crisis. For more information, talk with a Marsh McLennan Agency representative.

Mental Health First Aid training is available
Marsh & McLennan Agency -- Minneapolis is now offering a new training program called “Mental Health First Aid.” This evidence-based, 8-hour training course is designed to give your employees the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.  Just as CPR training helps a layperson without medical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Contact our certified trainers for more information: Courtney Patt at +1 (763) 746-8509 or Erika Tollefson at +1 (763)203-4731.