Deloitte joins with WHO and global businesses to address mental health in the workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the complexity of many ongoing societal challenges, including social and economic inequity, gender inequality, and deepening political division. Adding to this complexity is another formidable challenge: mental health. According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the US Census Bureau, 18 to 39-year-olds report the highest rates of anxiety and depression. And, the Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey of nearly 23K millennials and Gen Zers supports those findings. Forty-six percent of Gen Z and 41% of millennial respondents reported feeling stressed or anxious, all or most of the time, with a higher proportion among women. And the problem is equally, if not more, pronounced in countries and communities that were particularly hard hit by COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year the cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is around $1 trillion. It’s a situation that leaves many large business organizations wondering what they can do to foster a culture that supports those employees potentially struggling with mental health issues.

There are still significant obstacles to elevating and openly discussing mental health at work. As the Deloitte report suggests, many policies created to support employees are often well intentioned, but not rooted in the most current research which regards mental health treatment and care as an integral part of physical and general well-being. As businesses and communities navigate the recovery from the pandemic, business leaders are realizing the need to reconsider the strategic importance of their employees’ mental health and well-being and to take the necessary measures, based on the latest research, so their companies and professionals can continue to thrive.

In 2021, the global CEOs of BHP, Clifford Chance, HSBC, Unilever, BP, WPP, and Salesforce (a Deloitte alliance) as well as Deloitte Global announced a WHO-backed initiative around workplace well-being: The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health. Founded on the understanding that nurturing workplace mental health today can make for a stronger workforce in the future, the organization’s six-point pledge, which all participating CEOs signed along with other leaders from around the world, calls upon leaders to “recognize that I play a critical role in raising awareness and enabling support for people within my organization.” The collaboration also aims to have participants share insights and support the development of leading practices around workforce mental health, based on the most current research with its holistic approach to physical and mental health. The long-term intention is to create a shared robust, detailed, and accessible road map for change, regardless of where an organization stands with its mental health initiatives.

“As business leaders, we have a responsibility to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues like stress and anxiety.” - Global CEO Emeritus Punit Renjen

Developing a culture that supports employees by openly discussing and addressing mental health—without the stigma often associated with the topic—takes time. Policies and measures are one thing. Attitudes and dispositions are another. Deloitte Global sees its contribution to The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health as an important step forward.

Deloitte Global’s contributions to the initiative will no doubt draw upon the efforts of Deloitte US, over the past decade, to change attitudes toward mental health. Under the direction of Dr. Deborah Miscoll, leader of Deloitte’s Integrated Mental Health Services, and Jen Fisher, chief well-being officer for Deloitte US, the organization advocates for a more dynamic and agile support structure and holistic approach to mental health that goes beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. From advanced mental health services through empowered well-being resources, employees and their dependents can benefit from a diversity of offerings. As more workplaces prioritize well-being and learn how to speak about mental health in an honest and open manner, the aim is to help address the mental health needs of today’s workforce.

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