According to a recent report by the American Psychiatric Association nearly 32% of adults say they are more anxious than they were last year and only 24% reporting being less anxious than last year — these are similar to changes in anxiety reported over the last two years.

But getting to the root cause of distress can be more difficult to diagnose when it’s not a physical problem – emotional and mental health issues are oftentimes left undetected and untreated for too long. Approximately 18% of the population – struggle with anxiety and nearly 7% of the population has reported at least one depressive episode in a given year.

Feeling ashamed often goes hand in hand with any mental or emotional struggle, particularly in a professional setting. The pressure to work and perform at 100% can be paralysing during a depressive phase, coupled with the fear of losing employment.

In an ideal world an employee should be able to disclose a mental health issue without being discriminated against, but the reality is we don’t live in that perfect world. About half of workers in the APA survey expressed concerns about discussing mental health issues at work; a third worried about consequences if they seek help.

Just like physical ailments, mental health can worsen from working long hours, lack of sleep, stress, overwhelming workloads and toxic work environments. One way to support people to be healthy is to look at areas of dysfunction in the workplace and address them in a direct and straightforward way.

Managers have a big role to play in raising awareness, getting rid of the stigma and treating this like any other issue. While more companies today are adopting employee assistance programs to cultivate a culture of openness, less than a third of those who struggle with mental health get the treatment they need.

Most people polled by the APA said they would help guide a troubled co-worker to mental health resources. Three out of four workers said they would recognize signs of anxiety or depression. But one in four workers say they would not know where to guide their co-worker for mental health help.

These results show both encouraging and concerning aspects of mental health in the workplace. The extent to which people are willing to reach out and help colleagues is encouraging. However, the continued hesitancy among many to talk about mental health concerns in the workplace is troubling and illustrates the ongoing stigma against mental illness. We have work to do to get to the point where people are as comfortable talking about mental health concerns as they are about physical health concerns.

For further support & advice contact EAP Assist