Let’s continue supporting employees’ mental wellbeing beyond the month of May

Jun 11, 2024

By Tom Browne, MassBio Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Multiethnic young people talk at psychological group training

This year’s mental health awareness month once again offered the opportunity for our members to showcase all that they were doing to support the wellbeing of their employees and the community; from initiatives big and small, staff led to CEO supported. As this month comes to an end for another year, I want to encourage our members to continue to support their employees beyond just the month of May and remind us all why protecting the mental wellbeing of our employees in an inclusive way matters to employers and health equity more broadly.   

The heightened attention around the shortcomings in mental health support  in corporate America has increased the frequency of individuals seeking support away from their workplaces. Organizations like Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, whose founder Leslie Forde releases weekly blogs with insights, research, tips, and encouragement, are being turned to frequently. Employers should not just be aware of these resources but should use them to consider how their own practices either help or hinder the wellbeing of their employees. Employers shouldn’t be expected to alleviate all of the challenges that exist for employees, especially when considering global challenges like the lasting impacts of the COVID pandemic, but they should consider what’s in their capabilities to support them with. Could you create forums for employees to share how they are supporting themselves and others like I did during the UK’s Time to Talk campaign?  

And it’s not just current employees that need to be considered. According to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Young Residents Survey focused on 20-30 year olds, 46% of respondents said they are prioritizing improving or maintaining their mental health and found “young professionals will likely be drawn to jobs and work environments that also respect and support these priorities, like when offering benefits such as health insurance coverage that include mental health services and paid sick/wellness days off”. Overlayed with Gallup’s recently released World Happiness Report which suggests “for the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, happiness has decreased in all age groups, but especially for the young, so much so that the young are now, in 2021-2023, the least happy age group”, what are you offering and how can you appeal to those who have this top of mind? 

Finally, according to a report just released by Deloitte, “The United States will spend an estimated US$477.5 billion in avoidable and unnecessary expenses related to mental health inequities in 2024”. They go on to report that “if left unaddressed, mental health inequities could lead to about U$14 trillion in excess costs between now and 2040”. These are staggering numbers and it will take collaboration between multiple stakeholders to address this, similarly to what we read here locally with The $5.9 Billion Case for Massachusetts Health Equity Reform. What can we do to play our part? 

For steps you can take as an employer to support mental wellbeing, read this article from the Harvard Business Review: 5 Strategies for Improving Mental Health at Work 

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