We surveyed over 1,200 U.S. workers and sought to discover what their current attitudes toward behavioral health are and whether workplace programs today are meeting their needs in this first edition of our annual report.
Below, we’ve highlighted four key insights to add to a better understanding of the problems that stand in the way of a society free from barriers to mental health. To understand more about our approach to this research, read a letter from our CEO, Russell Glass
While a certain amount of stress is normal and can actually be good for productivity, chronic stress can lead to consequences that are severe and long-lasting. In our research, we found that 83 percent of workers experience stress, defined as stress on a regular basis and 45 percent of workers under 40 experience extreme stress on a daily basis.
While there are multiple ways this can impact an organization, we saw that employee morale and absenteeism were hit especially hard. Half of workers surveyed missed at least one day of work per year due to behavioral health challenges. If the average salary in the U.S. is $46,800, just one missed day per employee costs the average 500-person business $89,310 per year—roughly two full-time members of staff.
The most encouraging trend that we discovered in our research was that attitudes towards behavioral health are improving for the better—and fast. 50% of U.S. workers report that they are more likely to seek help now than they were five years ago.
This trend was one of the strongest in our research and is consistent across industry categorization, gender, age, and urbanization. But while people feel more empowered now than ever before to get care, generational differences show that stigma still exists for older populations in ways that it doesn’t for younger workers.
Employees and job seekers alike expressed that employer-provided behavioral health was top-of-mind when evaluating current or future employers. 91% of U.S. workers believe that their employer should care about their emotional health. 85% of people also reported that behavioral health services are important when evaluating a new job—with almost 40 percent scoring behavioral health as very important.
Additionally, people ranked wellness programs and mental health support as top priorities over financial advising, gym memberships, free meals, and others. This trend is significantly stronger in younger generations, who make up a growing portion of the workforce every year.
One of the most worrying trends we discovered was that, despite the increase in demand for behavioral health services, people are still experiencing significant barriers to accessing support. While most people experience stress regularly, only 26 percent sought professional help. Of those who have sought help, some reported paying for care out-of-pocket because their benefits didn’t cover it.
Even more, 81 percent of people who have never utilized their behavioral health benefits reported encountering a variety of barriers to access. These barriers included not having time, fear of their employer finding out, and not being able to find providers.
Our research suggests that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of behavioral health—even though a large number of people report that they still face obstacles when trying to access services. Throughout our research, accessibility was consistently ranked by workers as important. Across the board, people reported that they want easy-to-access services, available on their own schedule. It’s critical that employers and benefits managers keep this in mind when deciding what behavioral healthcare services to offer their population. Additionally, while the stigma surrounding mental health is fading for most, it continues to be a barrier for some. By actively seeking to understand what attributes employees wants out of their behavioral health services, employers can ensure that the solutions they are offering will have a positive impact.
Hear how Sephora is de-stigmatizing behavioral health and increasing utilization of their benefits across 20,000 dispersed retail employees in 700+ locations.