Mental health will be a high priority for employers in 2022

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Brain in hand  More companies are not only responding to the heightened demand but also seizing this transformational shift in the workplace to reimagine workforce mental health.

For nearly two years, employers have talked about getting back to normal when the pandemic ends. Most now realize that the new normal will look different than the old one.

“The pandemic changed a lot of things — probably permanently — about the relationship between people and the way they view work,” said Chester Spell, PhD, a professor of management at Rutgers University who studies psychological health and well-being in organizations. “This intimately ties in to the job stress-mental health link. Employers are realizing the veil has been lifted and are looking for ways to attract and retain good employees.”

Going into 2022, companies increasingly are taking action to attract and retain top talent by focusing on employees’ well-being, including meaningful support for their mental health. More companies are not only responding to the heightened demand but also seizing this transformational shift in the workplace to reimagine workforce mental health.

Lyra Health consulted company clinicians, third-party experts and its surveys of employees and employee benefit leaders to look at how employers may address mental health issues in the coming year.

Employer-provided mental health support will continue to rise to meet soaring demand. As workers’ mental health challenges have become ever more apparent during the pandemic, so too have their expectations of mental support from their employers. This is not lost on HR professionals: 60% of the 250 employee benefit leaders in Lyra’s latest survey said employee expectations around mental health support rose over the past year.

Flexible work policies that benefit mental health will become a mainstay. In 2022, companies are expected to give employees expanded options and control over how they work, with the aim of boosting workforce morale, engagement and retention. Over the past two years, both employers and employees got a crash course on the importance of flexible work.

More attention to the mental health needs of kids and families. Although nearly one in five children had a mental health condition pre-pandemic, that number appears to have risen. Six in 10 parents in an October 2020 survey said their child had experienced emotional or mental health challenges in the past month, and one-third reported that their child’s mental health had declined during the pandemic.

Greater focus on destigmatizing serious or complex mental health conditions. As the prevalence and severity of mental health challenges have soared since the pandemic began, so too has the need to combat stigma against serious mental illness in the workforce. Mental health-related stigma is a common barrier to care, and going without treatment can mean even bigger repercussions for employees dealing with serious conditions.

More mental health literacy and education. With an increasingly distributed workforce and the rise in serious mental illnesses, people leaders need to be more vigilant for signs that an employee is in distress. To equip managers with the skills to do this, more companies are expected to offer mental health-related training and development opportunities to their workforces in 2022.



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