Many organizations are prioritizing the implementation of effective diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategies to better support employees of diverse cultures and backgrounds. One DEIB strategy that is often overlooked is employee mental health, a fundamental part of people’s overall wellness. In fact, 45% of people who did not receive mental health care reported workplace issues.
This is why it’s vital for employers to create a foundation to better understand and support the mental wellbeing of a diverse workforce and offer helpful tools and resources.
The numbers don’t lie
Mental health challenges can affect everyone, but not always the same way. In fact:
• 4.8 million African American people reported having a mental illness; they are 20% more likely to report experiencing physiological distress, but 50% less likely to seek treatment.
Unmet mental health needs like these can impact an employee’s job performance, attendance, productivity, engagement, communication and physical capability at work.
Addressing barriers to care
Although someone may be experiencing a mental health concern, they may not always seek help. There are many barriers to care that can prevent someone from doing so, some that are outside a person’s control. For example, social determinants of health such as safe transportation, discrimination, income and literacy skills can contribute to someone’s quality of life and access to seeking appropriate help.
Another factor that may play a part is that many adults in the U.S. feel there is a lack of providers available to address cultural needs. According to the 2022 Access to Care Survey from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing:
Workplace barriers to care can also include work/life balance and the ability for an employee to take time off from work to attend a doctor’s appointment or to take a sick or vacation day. In fact, 35 million workdays are lost each year due to mental illness.
#BeTheDifference for your employees
So, what can you do? Start by asking yourself and your leadership and HR teams these questions:
The National Council’s Social Justice Leadership Academy (SJLA) workbook can help you assess where you, your organization and its services are when it comes to embedding principles of social justice and equity into mental health and substance use treatment.
And, for organizations looking for ways to get more directly involved, consider offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) at Work training in your workplace. This training program teaches participants how to notice and support an individual who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use concern or crisis in a work environment and connect them with appropriate employee and community resources.
To learn more about MHFA at Work, visit MHFA.org/workplace and complete the inquiry form.
Learn more about how you can support your employees’ mental wellbeing:
Mental Health First Aid. (2022, Feb. 20). Mental Health First Aid for Workplace. Mental Health First Aid. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/population-focused-modules/workplace.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (n.d.). Social determinants of health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health.
SAMHSA. 2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases. (2018). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2018-national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases.
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing. (2022, May 11). 2022 access to care survey results. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2022-Access-To-Care-Survey-Results.pdf.
University of Pittsburgh. (2020, July). Effects of COVID-19 on family caregivers. University of Pittsburgh Center for Social & Urban Research. https://ucsur.pitt.edu/files/center/covid19_cg/COVID19_Full_Report_Final.pdf.
Virupaksha, H.G.; Muralidhar, D.; and Ramakrishna, J. (2015, Nov.) Suicide and suicidal behavior among transgender persons. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178031/.