World Mental Health Day, marked on October 10th, is dedicated to promoting mental health awareness and advocacy worldwide, and an opportunity to address what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality. It’s also a reminder that mental health is just as important at physical health, and that we should all strive to create a world – and a workplace — where mental well-being is a priority.
One of the benefits that emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic was a growing awareness of mental health at work. While many companies offer mental health benefits to their employees, not everyone is taking full advantage of these resources, leaving as much as 30 per cent of total compensation on the table.
In Canada, half a million people are unable to work due to poor mental health every week, and 38 per cent have taken time off work in the last five years due to mental health issues. Yet research shows that employee use of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) is below 10 per cent within a given year. Almost half of employees don’t even know whether their employer offers an EAP, and only five per cent are pleased with the EAP offered.
According to a Future Skills Centre report, it seems the way employers’ benefits are designed isn’t serving the employees who need these resources, and suggests the “lack and nature of existing benefits packages challenge the profitability of Canadian firms.”
Stigma around mental health issues might also make employees hesitant to openly seek help. Others might simply be unaware of the benefits offered, while some might feel overwhelmed by the process of accessing them. The bottom line is, there’s a gap between what’s available and what’s being used.
Employers play a crucial role in bridging this gap and fostering a mentally healthy workplace.
Here are some steps employers can take:
As we mark World Mental Health Day, company leadership has an opportunity to set an example by prioritizing their mental health. When leaders openly acknowledge their experiences and seek support, it sends a powerful message that it’s acceptable to reach out for help. This can go a long way in normalizing mental health conversations in the workplace.
By fostering a culture of awareness and accessibility, both employers and employees can contribute to a healthier workplace. Contact us for more information and advice on how you can close the gap between benefits offered and those utilized.