Home workers report negative mental health impacts

The APA has reported that the majority of employees working from home say they experienced negative mental health impacts, including isolation, loneliness and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day.

According to a May 2021 survey by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), only one in five employees reported that their employer has offered additional mental health services since the start of the pandemic. According to the survey, the number of employees who say they can talk openly about mental health with co-workers (56%) and supervisors (56%) is down from last year (65% and 62% respectively), too. These results imply that things may not be getting better. And this is a problem–for employees and their employers. Employees are struggling to get mental health care, and stigma is still a major issue in the workplace.

American Psychiatric Association’s Findings
The APA conducted an online survey of 1,000 remote workers between March 26 and April 5, 2021. The majority of employees working from home say they experienced negative mental health impacts, including isolation, loneliness and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day.

• 54% of employees report their employer has become more accommodating to their mental health needs since the start of the pandemic while 15% said less.
• One in five said their employer has offered additional mental health services, down from 35% last year.
• When looking at how employers treat employees who may have mental health issues, 28% said their employer had become more supportive over the course of the pandemic; 33% said the same as before; and only 9% said less supportive.
• Almost two-thirds of employees feel their employer offers sufficient mental health care resources and benefits (65%) and feel comfortable utilizing mental health services with their employer (64%).
• More than four in 10 employees are concerned about retaliation if they seek mental health care or take time off for their mental health. Younger workers are most concerned.
• Compared to last year, slightly fewer employees report their employer offers mental health benefits, including primary care with sufficient mental health coverage (28%, down from 34%), mental health days (14%, down from 18%) and on-site mental health care (12%, down from 16%).
• About one in seven employees reports their employer offers mental health apps, such as Calm or Headspace, or mental health training for supervisors and managers.
• 60% of employees reported working at home at least a few days a month and nearly a third (32%) worked at home all the time.
• Nearly two-thirds of people working from home feel isolated or lonely at least sometimes and 17% do all the time.
• More than two-thirds of employees who work from home at least part of the time report they have trouble getting away from work at the end of the day always (22%)

How Companies Can Support Mental Health?
As we navigate various transitions over the coming months and years, leaders are likely to see employees struggle with anxiety, depression, burnout, trauma, and PTSD. Those mental health experiences will differ according to race, economic opportunity, citizenship status, job type, parenting and caregiving responsibilities, and many other variables. So, what can managers and leaders do to support people as they face new stressors, safety concerns, and economic upheaval?

Be vulnerable.
One silver lining of the pandemic is that it is normalizing mental health challenges. Almost everyone has experienced some level of discomfort. But the universality of the experience will translate into a decrease in stigma only if people, especially people in power, share their experiences. When managers describe their challenges, whether mental-health-related or not, it makes them appear human, relatable, and brave. Research has shown that authentic leadership can cultivate trust and improve employee engagement and performance.

Model healthy behaviours.
Don’t just say you support mental health. Model it so that your team members feel they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries.

Build a culture of connection through check-ins.
Intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever. Go beyond a simple “How are you?” and ask specific questions about what supports would be helpful.

Offer flexibility and be inclusive.
Inclusive flexibility is about proactive communication and norm-setting that helps people design and preserve the boundaries they need. Proactively offer flexibility, being as generous and realistic as possible.

Communicate more than you think you need to.
Make sure you keep your team informed about any organisational changes or updates. Clarify any modified work hours and norms. Remove stress where possible by setting expectations about workloads and prioritizing.

Invest in training.
Now more than ever, you should prioritize proactive and preventive workplace mental health training for leaders, managers, and individual contributors. It is important to debunk common myths, reduce stigma, and build the necessary skills to have productive conversations about mental health at work.

Modify policies and practices.
Be as generous and flexible as possible in updating policies and practices. For example, you may need to take a closer look at your rules and norms around flexible hours, paid time off, email and other communications, and paid and unpaid leave. Try to reframe performance reviews as opportunities for compassionate feedback and learning instead of evaluations against strict targets.

Ensuring accountability doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be handled in a simple survey done regularly to understand how people are doing now and over time. This direct employee input helps shape new programs, including remote management skill-building for managers, enhanced health and well-being support for employees, and increased work flexibility and time off.

As a technology provider, Locate Global offers a unique, modern approach to tackling mental health and well-being amongst your workforce. Our cloud-based mobile application and platform are designed to locate, monitor, respond and communicate with its users. With our automated check-in features, employees can keep senior management and key stakeholders informed on their well-being. Anonymous reporting can provide each employee the means to report incidents, hazards, and other non-emergency issues quickly and easily, providing c-level management with a visual heat map of common issues and incidents. In case of emergencies, alerting notifications and escalation procedures, along with two-way communication lines, ensure your staff are kept safe at all times.

To discuss our platform further, or to have a live demonstration with one of our experts, contact info@locate.global or call +44 (0)208 057 6402.