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Study: The state of mental health in the workplace

Study: The state of mental health in the workplace

Workers can’t be healthy, balanced, or successful if their companies don’t support their mental wellness.

This type of support is also good for companies: According to Accenture research, employees who work for companies that prioritize mental health are two times more likely to love their job and plan to stay for longer.

Unfortunately, our latest research shows that a high proportion of employees struggle with mental health, and they aren’t receiving enough support from their organization.

We collected responses from more than 2,000 individuals on SurveyMonkey Audience to see whether and how employees are struggling with their mental health. We also set out to see what, if anything, employees and their organizations are doing to directly address issues related to mental health.

Our results prove that mental health challenges are pervasive among employees—and that there’s a lot more companies could be doing to support their team.

Here’s the full breakdown of our findings on mental health in the workplace:

Learn how to use surveys to understand and improve the employee experience.

About 45% of employees say that anxiety or depression is hurting their productivity in the office—at least on occasion—while nearly 1 in 5 employees (18%) say that anxiety or depression interferes with their work all of the time or often.

At a closer look, we found 2 groups who are particularly affected by their mental health in the workplace:

1. Younger employees are more likely to experience a decline in their performance due to depression or anxiety: 30% of employees, 25-34 years old, are impacted either often or all of the time; while only 12% and 8% of employees 45-54 years old and 55-64 years old, respectively, are impacted.

2. Minorities are slightly more likely to struggle with depression or anxiety in the office than white employees: Roughly 1 in 7 (17%) white employees struggle with these mental health challenges at least often, while 20% of black and 23% of hispanic employees say they struggle with depression or anxiety often or all the time.

Organizations seem to recognize the importance of mental health in the workplace and, at a high-level, are taking some measures to improve it:

However, the need for better support becomes more clear when looking at the relationship between managers and their direct reports.

Only 31% of employees would feel very comfortable talking about their mental health with their manager, while a greater share (40%) would feel uncomfortable doing so.

The difficulty in opening up is shared across industries, with a few minor differences. For example, only 20% of employees who work in the public sector would feel comfortable having a mental health conversation while 36% of employees in tech would.

Less than half (47%) of employees would take a day off to improve their mental health. And those who would are about twice as likely to call in sick than to openly admit to taking a mental health day (32% vs. 15%).

At a closer look, we found that employees who have a higher level of education are more likely to take a day off in the hopes of bettering their mental health.

For instance, 43% of those without a college education would take a day off versus 52% who are at least college educated. This might reflect greater flexibility for those with white collar jobs that typically require a college education.

In addition, the industry the employee works in can influence their willingness to take a day off—especially if wellness is a focus in that industry. Case in point: Nearly half of employees in the healthcare industry would take time off, compared with 32% in the consumer goods industry.

So what’s holding employees back from improving their health? Four reasons stood out from the rest: needing money, management expectations, deadlines to meet, and feeling that the excuse is inadequate.

If companies want to empower employees to take care of their mental health, and be a more sustainable employer, they need to find ways to alleviate these anxieties with clear policies around mental health and management trainings.

We hope these insights motivate organizations, and employees themselves, to act in ways that improve mental health in the workplace. If they do, everyone wins.

This SurveyMonkey Audience study was conducted from October 9‑12, 2018. We surveyed 2,083 adults, 18 and older, who live in the United States. The sample was balanced by age, race, among other demographic variables, according to the U.S. Census.