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June 3, 2021 Amelia Wilcox

How Employers Can Break Down Stigmas: Key Takeaways

This week, HR leaders from all over the world gathered to talk about modern workplace challenges. In a world where 41% of adults have a diagnosable mental health condition, we saw an opportunity to bring this issue to light.

Haeli Harris, Nivati’s lead counselor, and I talked mental health to HR leaders from dozens of notable companies. We wanted to share our insights with you, too!

What is mental health and why does it matter?

Mental health, as defined by the WHO is: “a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Our mental health is like our physical health—we all have it, and it needs to be cared for. Our mental health impacts our physical health, and vice versa. Mental health is different from mental illness—we all have mental health, and many struggle from mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Mental health impacts our…

  • Emotions
  • Thoughts
  • Behaviors
  • Physical health

As a result, poor mental health impacts our performance in the workplace.

Each year, about 35 workdays are lost per person every year due to poor mental health—and that doesn’t include the negative impacts on employee morale, social interactions, leadership, and personal life.

Mental health struggles make focusing at work and sleeping at night more difficult. It is a snowball effect that leads to poorer mental health and lowered quality of life over time.

So—what can we do to stop the cycle?

The barriers to mental health care

The key is to overcome the barriers to mental health care.

50% of employees never seek the mental health support they need. Why?

There are two major reasons people don’t seek help:

  • Structural barriers
  • Attitudinal barriers

Structural barriers

These include logistical and practical reasons people don’t reach out for help. Structural barriers to mental health care include:

  • Cost
  • Inconvenience
  • Lack of therapist availability
  • Transportation

About a quarter of employees are held back by these barriers. Lack of therapist availability is at an all-time high right now. Many employees have to wait weeks to see a therapist.

The solution? Provide employees with a free virtual mental health care solution that is easy to use and simple to access.

Attitudinal barriers

These are the big ones. About 96% of employees don’t access mental health care due to these barriers.

Attitudinal barriers have to do with peoples’ perception of mental health:

  • Stigmas
  • Employer confidentiality 
  • Belief it will get better on it’s own
  • Perceived treatment ineffectiveness
  • Want to handle it themselves
  • Lack of understanding of severity

Attitudinal barriers are challenging to tackle. One of the best ways to start is to talk about mental health at work.

What your team can do about it

The best way to tackle mental health at work is to address these barriers.

Here are some things we suggest doing first:

  • Provide employees with a free virtual mental health care solution
  • Start talking about mental health in the workplace
    • Have mental health workshops
    • Train your managers how to talk to employees about mental health
    • Talk about mental health in one-on-one meetings with direct reports
  • Provide proactive care resources like yoga, meditation, financial coaching, and more
    • Meditate or do yoga together as a team
  • Set expectations
    • Offer mental health days
    • Encourage employees to take breaks and take days off
    • Set the example!

Check out our Manager Training Handbook for a deeper dive on this topic!

Looking to attend one of our speaking events down the road? Connect with me on Linkedin and/or follow Nivati’s Linkedin page to stay in the loop.

Check out a clip from one of our conferences below!

Nivati is the all-in-one employee wellbeing platform. We offer employee counseling, fitness classes, nutrition classes, finance coaching, life coaching, and so much more—live and on-demand! Employees can see a therapist within 48 hours with us.

But there’s so much more than that. We will work alongside your company on your mental health journey. We can make custom adjustments to our platform to best suite your employees’ needs. And every client of ours has their very own Customer Success Manager to help you make mental health a priority in your workplace.

Interested? Request a demo today!

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)