Eighty-four percent of college students believe that employers should provide space to connect around mental health and emotional wellbeing, but only 21 percent of organizations actually offer that resource to their employees, according to new research commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation and conducted by Bentley University’s Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business (CWB).
Two parallel online surveys of management-level professionals and college students entering the workforce, released in a newly published white paper titled “Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace: Employees Entering the Workforce,” document severe gaps between the desire for and availability of mental health resources in the workplace. Eighty-five percent of students support managers reaching out to them directly about mental health and emotional wellbeing concerns, but only 38 percent of organizations have dedicated mental health and emotional wellbeing trainings for managers, according to the study. Fifty-nine percent of students agree that the mental health and emotional wellbeing resources made available from an employer would influence their decision to accept or decline a job offer, but organizations are least likely to offer information about these resources during the interview process.
“It is incumbent upon today’s workforce and industry leaders to take steps to bridge the alarming gap between employees’ rising mental health challenges and the resources that employers offer to alleviate those challenges,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We need to create a culture in our workplaces where employees feel comfortable saying ‘I need help,’ and where managers have the tools, knowledge and skills to adequately address their concerns.”
The surveys examined availability, acceptability, and awareness of mental health and emotional wellbeing resources in the workplace; themes of workplace mental health stigma; the role of organizations in meeting the mental health and emotional wellbeing needs of employees entering the workforce; and the impact of COVID-19 and remote work environments on employee mental health. Eighty-three percent of students say they believe there is stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. Fifty-four percent of students and 67 percent of professionals think that working remotely makes accessing mental health resources more difficult, underscoring the workplace challenges created by the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has created a perfect storm that’s soon to make landfall in the form of greater mental health afflictions in the workplace,” said Trish Foster, Executive Director of the CWB at Bentley.