Why Mental Health in the Workplace is Culture Change, Not Just a Benefits Program

Updated: May 27, 2020

Jen Anderson | Chief Operating Officer, Mind Share Partners

This article was originally published on Mind Share Partners' "Mental Health at Work" section on Thrive Global.

The average person waits 8-10 years to get help for a mental health condition. That’s nearly a decade of symptoms—unaddressed and untreated—before someone decides to seek support. It would be preposterous for many of us to consider not getting any help if we’ve had a cold for over a month, let alone a decade. But for mental health, it’s the norm.

The majority of employees will experience symptoms of a mental health condition this year, and most of them aren’t seeking treatment often because of the strong stigma associated with mental health. Employers, thankfully, are starting to wake up to this fact and seeking ways to answer their employees’ calls for more mental health resources.

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The need for mental health in the workplace isn’t new.

For many companies, the initial response is to hand the issue off to HR to benchmark and acquire more mental health services; to find places and ways for employees to get access to mental health care.

What most employers are forgetting, however, is that access to mental health care at work isn’t new. EAPs have long been established as a way for employees to access easy mental health care. But despite the prevalence of EAPs, their utilization rates are abysmal, below 5%. Certainly, there is a myriad of reasons for this, including varying quality and long wait times, but one conclusion sticks—providing access to care does not guarantee that people will access the care.

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