The pandemic wreaked havoc on people’s mental health, with the number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression spiking from 11 percent in 2019 to 41 percent in 2021. 

At work, these struggles are quantified in stats such as employee sustained attention rates dropping by more than 60 percent and one in four adults reporting  signs of severe burnout. 

It’s on employers to come up with strategies to support their employees — and many have done so through interventions like peer support, flexible work policies and mindfulness training. 

But as Built In’s VP of People Kelly Keegan pointed out, a lot of companies hastily added new programs at the height of the pandemic when a quick plan was imperative to the success of their employees and company. 

“We were in survival mode,” Keegan said. “As the most devastating effects of COVID-19 seem to be receding, now we can shift from survival mode into being proactive to consider what we need to do now and in the future in the way of mental health and well being.” 

“Now we can shift from survival mode into being proactive to consider what we need to do now and in the future in the way of mental health and well being.” 


In Built In’s latest webinar, “The Importance of Mental Health at Work,” Keegan spoke with Daryl Tol, executive vice president at One Mind, Noa Dagan, global mental health manager at McKinsey & Company, and Kim Kivimaki, director of colleague health and well-being at Aon, to learn how companies can best support their teams. 

Here are some takeaways. To fully understand the scope of this issue and ways to address it download the full recording here


1. Language is important.

Stigmas exist around the phrase “mental health.” One way to overcome this stigma and get more people comfortable speaking about it is by being intentional about word choice.

“At Aon, and in my personal life, we talk about mental health as ‘emotional well being,’” Kivimaki said. “This is a little bit more holistic and captures people at every end of the spectrum. If we can get people more comfortable talking about emotional well being and recognizing that stress or burnout, whether it’s a symptom of or precursor to a more serious mental health problem, then maybe we’re able to start getting them to acknowledge that there are ways they can access help without that stigma.”




2. Lead by being vulnerable.

A survey conducted by Maestro Health last year found that 51 percent of employees don’t want to bring up mental health challenges with their managers out of fear of being seen as non-promotable or incapable.

Tol was one of those employees, hiding his anxiety disorder from employers for many years, even going so far as finding  a therapist located two counties away. Then, as CEO, he chose to start talking about it.

“I have regrets to this day that I didn’t start talking about my anxiety sooner,” said Tol. “The moment a leader shares a personal story like that, the team around that leader begins to open up and feel comfortable.” 


3. Get the word out about available resources.

It’s not enough to offer resources to employees. If no one knows they are available, consider these resources null. 

“A lot of times, I’ve found people are just not aware that the resources exist,” said Dagan. “We have to make sure people are aware of them.”

Specially, managers should know what resources are available for their direct reports. 

“HR teams have to make sure that they’re constantly training managers and giving them those resources so that when they are in the moment, they can answer right away versus steering away from the conversation,” Keegan said. 




Built In’s next webinar, “Navigating a Hybrid Workforce” will be held on Aug. 26. Stay tuned for more details!

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