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Managers Struggling to Handle Employee Mental Health Concerns

March 17, 2023

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE

The mental health crisis in the U.S. is not going away anytime soon, and managers are on the front lines of a rapidly evolving mental health crisis in the workplace often without the resources they need to support workers. That’s according to the findings of Lyra Health’s 2023 State of Workforce Mental Health Report. The third annual survey compiles responses from more than 2,500 employees and 250 employee benefits leaders.

Nearly 90 percent of employees surveyed faced at least one mental health challenge in the past year, and nearly 50% reported discussing their mental well-being at work. The survey showed that in most cases, that meant getting help from a manager to prioritize mental health.

The report reveals that two-thirds of supervisors feel their role has become more important and difficult since the pandemic began, while nearly half questioned whether they had the mental health resources and training to support team members. That concern may ultimately have an impact on leadership turnover, with one in three managers saying they’re actively looking to change employers over the next year.

“Managers are suffering burnout at an unprecedented rate as they struggle to support their teams’ well-being along with their own mental health needs,” said Dr. Connie Chen, chief operating officer, Lyra Health. “It is vital that organizations move quickly to make workforce mental health a priority. Key to that work is providing managers with training on how to notice and respond to mental health crises, along with resources to refer an employee to effective care when they need it.”

There is a resource gap. Lyra’s 2023 State of Workforce Mental Health report also uncovered a significant disconnect in perceptions of support between employers and their workforce. More than 70% of benefits leaders said their organizations have increased training and resources since the onset of the pandemic to help managers support employees’ mental health. By contrast, only half of managers or supervisors say their company has increased these types of resources. In addition, 40% of employees did not believe or were unsure if their manager and company leaders promote a psychologically safe workplace.

Key survey findings include:
  • 86% of employees have faced at least one mental health challenge in the past year; just one in three said they received mental health support in that time.
  • Nearly 50% of employees reported discussing mental health at work.
  • 40% of employees said they don’t believe or question whether leadership promotes a psychologically safe workplace.
  • 73% of benefits leaders believe their organizations have increased support for employee mental health, while only half of managers/supervisors agree their company has increased this type of support.
  • One in three managers are looking to change employers this year.

The following online discussions are a great resource offered by the state of Michigan’s Stay Well program. Upcoming in March:

Support for those with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Do the shorter, darker days of winter bring you down? When the seasons change, an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. experience low moods, low energy, and feelings of hopelessness. If you’re one of them, join this Stay Well discussion group to gain emotional support from other Michiganders who feel the same way. Register here.

Support for living with Long COVID

It’s common for people experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID to have a variety of emotions, including feelings of frustration, anxiety and depression. Long COVID sufferers and their caregivers can share their stories and get emotional support from others in this new Stay Well discussion group. Learn more and register here.

Support for older adults

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many older adults are feeling lonely and isolated. That’s why the Stay Well program offers a weekly online discussion group specifically for seniors and older adults. If you or someone you know is interested in joining, register here.

Be Kind to your Mind – Support for Everyone

Need a little emotional support? This group may be for you. It’s about unwinding, unburdening, and helping each other persevere in the face of continued COVID-19 distress. Hosted by Stay Well counselors, the group allows you to share your experiences and hear from other Michiganders about theirs.  Register here.

Support for people who are grieving

If you’ve lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find comfort talking to others who are also working through grief and loss, trying to adapt to the “new normal.” We invite you to join our weekly online discussion group, hosted by our Stay Well counseling team. Register here.

Teen Talk

Hey teens: Have you been feeling down? Anxious? Concerned about a friend or family member? It might help to talk it out! Join us for Teen Talk, an opportunity to chat with people your age from all over Michigan who can relate to what you’re going through. Teen Talk is 100% confidential — no parents/ teachers allowed. Register here.

We encourage you to share this information with your employees. Additional resources can be found on ASE’s Workplace Wellness Resources page.

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