Unum highlights new mental health research as U.S. workers face challenges during pandemic
Awareness, education, and early intervention key to resource utilization
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 5, 2020) — New research from employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) shows most employees aren’t aware of mental health resources easily available to them at work. These findings and more are included in the company’s new Mental Health in the Workplace 2020 Update, which serves as a follow up to its detailed Strong Minds at Work report issued last year.
Unum surveyed 1,210 working U.S. adults in mid-March, just as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold domestically. Forty-six percent of respondents say they have or know someone with a mental health issue, and those numbers were higher among Millennials (59%) and Gen Z (64%). According to 2019 research among 400 HR professionals, 93% say their company offers an employee assistance program (EAP), a set of health care services, and resources often a part of a health or disability insurance plan. However, 46% of workers say their employer doesn’t offer an EAP or are unsure if they do, indicating low awareness of often easily accessible services.
“Awareness, education, and early intervention are important components of the adoption of mental health benefits and resources,” says Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president, global wellbeing and health at Unum. “Most EAPs offer a set of counseling sessions free of charge, access to app-based mental health tools, and other self-directed resources.”
Forty-seven percent of workers with access to an EAP have used it in the previous five years, with 27% using telephonic or virtual mental health counseling services. Millennials (60%) and Gen Z (72%) report higher use of EAP services than their Gen X and Boomer colleagues. Thirty-five percent of workers cite convenience as their top reason for using telephonic or virtual mental health counseling.
Workers believe mental health resources should be supported in the workplace. Forty-three percent say employers should make it clear that mental health is a priority, 40% think employers should provide EAPs, 39% want the flexibility to take a “mental health day,” and 34% feel employers should normalize the conversation around mental health to remove often-associated stigma.
These findings and more, including guidance for human resources professionals, expert commentary, and best practices for businesses are available in Unum’s 2020 Mental Health Update and in its 2019 Strong Minds at Work report.