The global mental healthcare crisis amongst workers requires a fundamental change in the health sector’s response.
The call came as new research found that over 70% of employees studied showed signs of mental health issues with some having endured their issues without treatment for over a decade.
What makes the results of the study more concerning is that it was undertaken prior to the COVID pandemic during which the move to remote working has increased the feeling of isolation for many staff.
US mental health technology company Emvitals, published research in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine with the aim to provide greater insight into employee mental health and support. The study, conducted between 2019 and 2020 in partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine, BHS and Quest Diagnostics, revealed a high percentage of employees in need of mental health support.
“Untreated and under-treated mental health is a massive health issue,” said Jennifer Hunter, CEO of Emvitals. “60% of people in need of mental healthcare simply never seek care and those that do can wait a decade to do so. Mental healthcare must transform from reactive and fragmented care to proactive and integrated care.”
The study found more than 70% of participants were identified as being at risk for common, highly treatable mental health conditions, based on the Emvitals questionnaire. The Emvitals assessment tool measures, reports and tracks emotional health indicators including risk for depression, anxiety and chronic stress.
The research gauged the influence social determinants and life events have on the likelihood research participants would connect with recommended care. The study points to a need for emotional health screening and easy access to support resources for the workforce.
The report found:
- Risk was proactively identified through online screening of 344 participants.
- At-risk participants were offered a mental health care concierge to provide support, develop a care plan and connect to care.
- Risk for common mental health conditions was identified in 244 (71%) participants, of whom 66 (27%) connected with a care concierge.
- 80% of at-risk employees had no history or mental health treatment.
- 89% of at-risk employees who engaged in care navigation services were successfully connected to care.
Individuals who completed a consultation were more likely to report a financial crisis in the previous six months and less likely to report tobacco use, verbal abuse and difficulty meeting daily needs (e.g., food, shelter) than those that did not engage in care concierge services.
Individuals who completed a consultation tended to be caregivers, have risk for depression, traumatic stress and low social support (difficulty getting practical help from friends or neighbours). Such findings may highlight the attitudes, structural motivators and barriers related to seeking support.
Emvitals said the study confirmed the benefits of employer sponsored mental and emotional health screening and support, specifically the effectiveness of taking “emotional vitals” to identify risk based on commonly known causes of mental health conditions. Identification and early support services can lead to better clinical outcomes, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.
“One employee suffering with untreated depression costs an employer $12,000 per year and the majority of employees with depression are untreated or receiving inadequate care,” added Ms Hunter.