What companies can do to help employees address mental-health issues

By Barbara Harvey

People are increasingly waking up to the magnitude of the mental-health issue and its importance in the world of work. When employers create a culture that supports mental health, workers are more than twice as likely to say they love their job. They are also more likely to plan to stay with their employer for at least the next year. What can companies actually do to take on this challenge? Research points to three keys.

Signal “it matters.” There’s a lot of concern about “opening up” at work. Many fear that doing so could limit their opportunities, get in the way of promotion and generally be seen as a sign of weakness. Senior leaders can ensure that employees at all levels are made aware of the services and support the company offers.

Raise awareness through training. It can be very hard, for both the speaker and the listener, to have a conversation about a mental-health problem and then to know what to do next. Training in all forms is essential. Tools that the arsenal should contain include online training classes to help employees recognize signs of stress or mental ill health in themselves and in others, and webinars led by senior leaders.

Curate and improve online tools. Most people are prepared to turn to online tools and applications for information and advice about mental health in which they can remain anonymous. Even companies with scarce resources to dedicate to these kinds of benefits can offer employees a curated list of the most trusted publicly available sources and provide access to those sources where possible.

Mental-health challenges touch us all in some way at some time in our lives. As employers we have the power to help—to make it easier for people to talk, to help them get the support they need in the way that works for them and to help them be their best selves at home and at work.

Barbara Harvey is a managing director at Accenture Research and executive sponsor of Accenture’s mental-health program in the UK.