Business leaders need to double down on employee mental health

Russell Glass, Chief Executive Officer of Headspace Health

Headspace Health, the provider of accessible, comprehensive digital mental health platform, announced new data revealing the perceptions of CEOs and workers on mental health.

The Fourth Annual Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health Report, based on a global survey fielded between February and March 2022, compiled data from more than 500 CEOs and 5,400 full-time employees in the, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom and U.S to examine workplace issues driving stress and burnout among CEOs and their employees.

What were the findings the study?

The Fourth Annual Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health Report had these insights;

What is the effect of the pandemic on mental health?

COVID-19 related stress among some workers has started to fall, however, employees are increasingly feeling stress from burnout and challenges with management and leadership.

  • 91% of working Australians report experiencing moderate to extreme stress at least once a week. Almost half experience stress most days.
  • 88% of Australian CEOs and 72% Australian of employees report missing at least one day of work due to stress, burnout and mental health challenges. Only 28 percent of employees report feeling “very engaged” in their work.
  • 41% of Australians have missed a full week of work during the past year due to stress, anxiety or other mental health challenges.
  • Top global stressors for employees are COVID-19, burnout due to increased workload or lack of staff, poor work-life balance, and poor management and leadership.
  • Women (40%) feel burned out at work than male (33%) or non-binary (34%).
  • Non-binary employees report a wider range of stressors than male & female counterparts.

What is the support system like in the office?

Headspace Health research also found that employers are pulling back on mental health programs at the exact moment employees need and want them most.

  • 97% of Aussie CEOs think they do enough to support workforce mental health, while only 66% of Australian employees feel the same way. This gap has persisted year over year.
  • 71% of workers say their company increased focus on mental health following COVID-19, with only 31% of Australians say they have kept that focus in the last year.
  • Globally, more than half of employees have tried a technology-based mental health service, with blue collar workers and CEOs reporting the highest usage rates.
  • Use of digital mental health tools among Australian employees, such as remote-based therapy and meditation apps, has doubled since 2020.

What are the employee expectations?

Headspace Health research also found that a diverse, multi-generational workforce expects quality, accessible, and culturally competent mental healthcare from their employers.

  • 79% agree that it’s important that their company’s mental health benefits are based on methods that licensed behavioral health or medical professionals agree are effective.
  • Headspace Health research also found that there’s a big gap between CEO and employee perceptions regarding how easy it is to access mental health benefits. 93% of Australian CEOs say it’s “very easy” or “easy” while only 68% of employees agree.
  • 89% of global CEOs see the inextricable link between DEI and mental health, and 90% of Australian employees agree that it’s important that they bring their “whole self” to work.
  • When it comes to working parents, 85% of global CEOs agree that firms should help employees manage the emotional and mental well-being of their children.

How are business leaders taking care of themselves?

Leaders are willing to lead the charge towards better mental health, but they need support balancing both their own wellbeing as well as their team’s emotional and functional capacity.

  • 87% of Australian leaders take advantage of mental health support at least occasionally.
  • Headspace Health research also found that 60% of global CEOs use their company’s mental health benefits regularly compared with 37% of employees.
  • One in four employees list “poor leadership and management” as a top stressor, with Australian employees reporting this as an increased stressor compared to 2021 and 2020.
  • Headspace Health research also found that 85% of Aussie employees believe that it is the employer’s responsibility to help with mental health, and 45% of Australian employers want their leaders to ask them how they are doing and actually care about the answer.

What were the executive’s thoughts on the study?

“Employee mental health is a business continuity issue that every leader needs to address, particularly as many employees return to the office and experience new day-to-day stressors,” said Russell Glass, Chief Executive Officer of Headspace Health.

“To attract and retain talent, it’s vital that leaders destigmatise mental health from the top-down and meet the expectations of their employees for high-quality mental health benefits.”

Using evidence-based interventions and tech, Headspace Health supports millions worldwide with accessible and affordable mental health services. Over 3,500 enterprise clients have partnered with Headspace Health to provide employees access to mindfulness tools through Headspace for Work and text-based coaching, therapy and psychiatry through Ginger.