Mental Health ROI

Addressing Mental Health is Not a ROI Metric

As the annual calendar turned, and I reflected on major trends from 2022 to instruct ideas for 2023, the topic of mental health came to mind. Yawn?  Such is a topic already very much in the news. I googled “Mental Health Articles in 2022” and over 1 billion results arrived in 1/3 of a second. Yet, mental health came to mind, because there seems to remain a disconnect in tackling the issue.

I am no mental health expert, yet I provide the following insights for your consideration:

  • Virtually every HR professional with whom I speak has mental health at the top of their radar, and such is not because it’s a fleeting HR trend. HR folks are on the front line of this ballooning issue with their own employees, and many are worried. We need to listen to these folks.
  • While macro data shows increased trends in opioid abuse, suicide rates, and certain other areas of medical coding; my sense is these data points only scratch the surface. Front-line managers and healthcare professionals suggest there is a hidden iceberg of anxiety and depression to address, and it’s getting worse – not better.
  • As it did with many things, the pandemic accelerated the disconnect between workers and thus mental health issues. Perhaps there’s a reason Gallup’s engagement survey asks employees if they have a “best friend at work.”
  • Mental health is highly personal, and personal experience with the mental health of those you care about is often needed to fully “get it.” Unfortunately, the opposite is true, thus a chasm exists between those wanting to make a difference and those less eager to do so.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are a must-have tool; however, they are mostly reactive and won’t fully solve the problem. Most small/mid-sized employers have “free” solutions embedded in their benefits programs, and we all know what accompanies free.

What’s the “so what” from the five points above?

If I were granted one wish on this topic, it would be for key centers of influence (Employer C-suites, Academic leaders, and even parents) to look past provable ROI and invest in mental health programming and resources to help serve and educate those under their influence.

John Hearn Principal

John A. Hearn

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