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How employers can be part of the solution
Recognized each year on April 7th, World Health Day is a global awareness event launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) to draw attention to a specific health topic that is impacting individuals around the world. This year, the WHO celebrates its 75th anniversary with the theme Health For All.
Globally, working adults spend most of their waking hours at work. This puts employers in a unique position to be part of the solution—but first, many may have to re-examine their approach to employee health to encompass not just the body but also the mind.
Mental health is health
Despite our tendency to view mental health as separate from physical and general health, mental health is health. More than the absence of mental illness—mental health is a cornerstone of our overall health and wellbeing. And much like our physical health, mental health changes over time in response to life circumstances, falling somewhere on a continuum ranging from wellness to acute illness.
Our mental health and our physical health are intertwined and influence each other. When we’re feeling good mentally, we’re more apt to care for our physical wellbeing. And taking care of our physical wellbeing (stretching, drinking water, or taking a walk) can also positively impact how we feel emotionally and psychologically.
The main takeaway: When our mental health is poor, it can take a toll on our physical health and vice versa. In fact, employees experiencing mental distress use roughly $3,000 more each year in health care services per year than their peers.
Mental health in the workplace
The need to support mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has only grown stronger over the years and continues to grow following the COVID-19 crisis. As people everywhere continue to struggle to adapt to changes in the way they work, live, and socialize, mental health has become a must-have employee benefit, with 92% of US employers expanding their mental wellbeing offerings in 2021. Unfortunately, even as employers put in effort and investments, many continue to miss the mark— 4 in 10 US workers report that the mental health benefits their employers provide do not meet their needs.
There are a number of reasons many employees feel these options aren’t right for them. The majority of mental health solutions either offer support that’s not quite robust enough—such as mindfulness and meditation apps—or care that’s too intensive for people seeking mental wellbeing support to help them deal with everyday struggles. Without effective or accessible options that meet their unique needs, many of these individuals go without support…until their problems escalate. However, even when problems escalate, stigma and other barriers to care (like complex pathways to care and a growing shortage of providers) keep people from seeking the help they need.
Mental health for all
Because our mental and physical health are innately connected, Health For All must also include mental health for all. Beyond making evidence-based, ethically sound care available to their employees, employers must take steps to break down barriers to care for the most vulnerable members of their workforce. Making mental health talk a regular part of your organizational culture and offering low-friction digital options can help reduce stigma among those employees who aren’t open to in-person services.To make mental health and Health For All a reality for people everywhere, our approach to mental health care must shift. At Koa Health, we’re on a mission to bridge existing gaps in care to make mental wellbeing more accessible to people everywhere—by creating personalized, evidence-based solutions that users can access when they need it most, wherever they are.
Is your organization reexamining your approach to employee mental wellbeing? Contact us at email@example.com, or schedule a call with one of our experts here.
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The Team @ Koa Health
Our diverse team of developers, researchers, psychologists and behavioral health experts work together to create practical, thought-provoking content to accompany our range of digital therapeutics.