Why Employers Must Focus on Improving Workplace Mental Health: 3 Strategies to Support Employees

The pandemic has upended lives and led to increased rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Seventy-six percent of U.S. employees surveyed report at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year according to Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Mental Health at Work Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data suggests that the mental health of younger people and minorities has been especially impacted.

Mental health affects employers’ ability to retain employees. Fifty percent of employees left their jobs for mental health reasons in 2020, including those caused by workplace factors like overwhelming and unsustainable work (Mind Share Partners’ report). These numbers are higher for younger workers, LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx employees. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials and 81% of Gen Zers left roles for mental health reasons.
Employees and the employers that cover them pay more for patients with mental health. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average out-of-pocket spending for adults with mental illness enrolled in large employer health plans is higher than average out-of-pocket spending for adult enrollees without mental illness ($1,347 vs. $671).

Costs for the most common diagnoses have increased significantly. Employers can reduce costs and improve retention rates by supporting their employees' mental health needs.