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July 14, 2022

Survey shows workers’ discomfort talking about mental health

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New research from The Hartford and the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that more than half the population feels uncomfortable talking about mental health in the workplace, with minority groups less likely to want to engage in such conversations.

The research, which was released Thursday morning and includes 2,320 respondents interviewed in May and June, shows that while 49% of white respondents said they felt comfortable talking to their manager about their mental health, only 38% of Latinx respondents, 27% of Black respondents and 25% of Asian American-Pacific Islander respondents felt comfortable in having those talks.

In addition, less than half of those answering the survey said they had an open and inclusive work environment that encouraged a dialogue about mental health. The research showed that 43% of whites felt their work environment encouraged that dialogue, while 36% of Latinx, 33% of Blacks and 42% of Asian American-Pacific Islanders felt the same way.

The new survey comes at the heels of a survey earlier this year by The Hartford, which found that 71% of employees felt the deteriorating mental health of their workforce was having a negative financial impact on their company.

The Hartford CEO Christopher Swift said the survey was needed to address the important issue of mental health and to see what the attitudes of workers are.

“As more companies spotlight mental health in the workplace, creating a psychologically safe work environment that enables everyone to be part of the conversation is paramount,” Swift said. “Employers who prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion invest in employee mental health, and lead with empathy will differentiate themselves in the marketplace, achieve better business outcomes, and help millions of Americans enjoy healthier lives.”

The survey also showed that 30% of the U.S. workforce would not turn to workforce resources if they needed mental health assistance.

Daniel Gillison Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health entity, said in a statement: “We urge employers to act now to dispel stigma, expand access to mental health care and provide flexibility for more workers to get the help they deserve.”

Respondents also listed several actions that their companies could take to increase empathy and engagement. The actions included educating senior leaders and managers about mental health conditions and resources, while encouraging peer-to-peer support.

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