Workers & Mental Health — A Growing Problem?

Mental health at work is a growing crisis. COVID got the discussion started and since then employers have been giving the mental health of their employees more attention.

Or have they?

It appears from research from the mental health advocate, Wysa that employees aren’t seeing that much progress. Wysa chief psychologist, Smriti Joshi says their data suggests that many employees are at risk of suffering a mental health crisis.

Younger workers are the most vulnerable with 35% of those 18 to 24 saying they have thought about self-harm and suicide.

“While mental health crisis is not a new phenomenon among workers, it’s concerning to see rates of depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts increasing,” Joshi said. “In recent years we’ve seen some high profile stories on executives suffering from mental crises, but the reality is, these issues can impact anyone at any point in their careers.”

Wysa’s survey of is from 2,000 employees across a variety of different industries. Here’s what they found:

  • 12% say they have experienced a colleague committing suicide or attempting suicide
  • 33% say they are emotionally distant from others
  • 29% have a sense of isolation or withdrawal from others
  • 26% are caught up in past trauma or issues
  • 25% say they are distracted or have no humor in them anymore
  • 23% have a persistent sense of hopelessness

The survey found that a huge percentage of employees are not willing to go to their employer to get help and 38% think their employer does not see mental health as a work-related issue, anyway.

The survey found a lot of employees afraid to talk mental health with their employer or manager because it might get them to question their abilities and become more critical of their work. It also could cause career advancement issues.

And then there’s the concern of having their mental health issues ignored completely.

  • 22% of those surveyed say their have seen managers respond inappropriately to a co-worker showing signs of stress or mental illness
  • 33% don’t think the people running their company communicate with each other about employee mental health
  • 34% think their employers treat mental health as an exercise to do rather than something to really be addressed

Joshi says employers are caught in the middle because they, and their HR departments, are doing more to address the mental health of their workers than ever. And if they’re doing more, how is it things seem to be getting worse?

“Unfortunately, what we see through the findings is that many workers don’t trust that management within their organizations actually want to help solve this problem,” Joshi said. “This is where it becomes critical that organizations show and not just tell when it comes to mental health. They need to earn the trust of employees by responding appropriately to signs or symptoms of mental illness, giving employees the room, resources and training to seek help and be ready to acknowledge that mental health is a work issue as much as a personal one.”

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