Employees in all industries want more preventive mental health support from their employers, according to a Calm survey of 2,000+ US workers
Employee mental health remains at risk. Even as the pandemic wanes, challenges to worker well-being abound. Tech employees are fearing for their jobs amid mass layoffs. Healthcare workers continue to battle exhaustion and burnout. Teachers are seeking better pay and safety in the classroom, and railway workers are fighting for paid sick days to tend to their health. It’s no surprise that work-related stress is sky high and feelings of stress and anxiousness are spreading beyond work and into personal lives.
The good news? The majority of employers (two-thirds) are making employee mental health and well-being a top health priority in the next three years, according to Willis Towers Watson. And while many employers are expanding access to existing employee assistance programs (EAPs), they’re also exploring a broader range of support, including investing in mental health training for managers, collaborating with employee resource groups (ERGs) to support specific workforce populations, and providing access to digital mental health support.
What’s the best workforce mental health approach for different industries?
As employers look to evolve their workforce mental health solutions beyond reactive, one-size-fits-all solutions, which way should they turn? A good place to start is understanding what’s happening in their industry. How are employees feeling? What kind of mental health support are their employers offering? And most important, what kind of mental health support do employees say they need and expect employers to provide?
Calm set out to answer these questions in our survey of 2,000+ workers in the US general population. We asked employees across key industries about their mental health challenges, how their employers are supporting them, and what they wish their employers would offer. Based on employee responses, we benchmarked industries by their level of preventive mental health support and categorized them as below average, average, or above average.
What did the survey show? Despite some industries doing better than others, employees in all industries wish their employers would offer more mental health solutions focused on prevention.
Here are some key industry insights from Calm’s 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report.
Hospitality industry employees have the highest rate of anxiousness and stress but feel out on their own
Although their stress and anxiousness are the highest among the industries Calm profiled, hospitality* employees feel they’re out on their own.
More than half of hospitality industry respondents reported feeling stressed or anxious most or all the time, and more than 40% are having difficulty falling asleep.
Yet only 35% of respondents said they feel supported by their managers when it comes to their mental health, below the overall average of 44% across all industries. What’s more, the hospitality industry has the lowest share of respondents (only 15%) who say mental health is discussed in the workplace, two times lower than the average across industries.
Here are some practical things hospitality employees wish their employers would offer:
- Access to self-care break rooms. Hospitality workers reported the least access to self-care break rooms, but more than 50% wish employers offered them.
- Mental health tools for stress, anxiousness, and sleep. Only 23% of employees have access to preventive mental health tools but 46% wish they did.
- Mental health days off. Fewer than 10% have mental health days off but 65% wish they had this employer benefit.
* Entertainment and tourism, e.g., restaurants, hotels, and resorts
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More education employees feel hopeless and depressed but have the least access to mental health tools
Nearly half of employees (48%) in education reported feeling hopeless or depressed most or all the time, 13 points higher than the next-highest employee population (hospitality workers). One bright spot is that more education employees (36%) than average (28%) said their employers offer training on how to be a mindful manager.
At the same time, there’s a significant gap between the mental health needs of education workers and the support offered by their employers. Despite reporting high levels of stress, anxiousness, and depressive symptoms, only 22% of education employees said they have access to mental health solutions.
Education employers can improve their support for employee mental health and well-being by offering access to digital mental health tools to help with stress, anxiousness and sleep. More than half (52%) of education respondents want their employer to offer mental health solutions, the most across all industries, and digital solutions can be cost-effective for organizations with tight budgets.
Healthcare workers report average mental health support but above-average stress and anxiousness
Stress, anxiousness, and sleep issues affect more healthcare workers than average as they continue to face capacity challenges, staff shortages, and what many perceive as an irretrievably broken fee-for-service healthcare system.
More healthcare workers than average said they have access to self-care rooms but also identified gaps in mental health support from employers. Healthcare employers should consider offering the following:
- Access to mental health tools for stress, anxiousness, and sleep. Thirty-three percent of healthcare workers reported having access, but 41% wish their employers offered such support.
- Mental health days off. Just over one quarter of healthcare workers (26%) reported their employers offer them, but just over half of employees (53%) said they wish their employers did.
- Wellness stipends. Twenty percent said their employer offers wellness stipends (the industry average), but 51% wish their employer did.
More technology workers than average are stressed, anxious, and having trouble sleeping
More tech workers than average across all industries said they’re feeling stressed and anxious and having trouble sleeping, but they also reported better-than-average support from employers. According to employees, the tech industry has the second-best mental health offerings, including solutions to address stress, anxiousness, and sleep (37%); wellness stipends (26%), and mental health days off (32%).
Yet tech workers still want more preventive mental health support, including the following:
- Resilience workshops. Thirty-one percent of tech workers said they have access to workshops on resilience and coping strategies for stress and anxiousness (just shy of the overall industry average), but 49% want this benefit at work.
- Access to mental health tools. Forty percent of employees said they don‘t have access to a mental health solution to address stress, anxiousness, and sleep and wish they did.
- More supportive workplace culture. Forty-seven percent said their workplace isn‘t supportive of their mental health and they wish it were.
Retail workers want more mental health support from employers
The retail industry has the second highest percentage of stressed and anxious employees (48%), just behind hospitality (52%), so it’s not surprising that employees want more mental health support from their employers.
Employers should consider offering these benefits:
- Mental health tools for stress, anxiousness, and sleep. Forty-four percent said they don’t have access but want it.
- More self-care break rooms. Forty-nine percent wish they had access to a break room on-site.
- Training for supportive managers. Even though 37% said they feel their managers are supportive of their mental health, 43% said they wish their managers were supportive.
- More conversations about mental health at work. More than half of retail workers (52%) said they want company-wide conversations about mental health. Only 24% said those happen at their organizations today.
Finance and government workers have good mental health support but want more from their employers
Finance employees reported the best access to mental health support tools for stress, anxiousness, and sleep (40% of respondents). They also enjoy wellness stipends (30%) and mental health days off (30%)—both well above the overall industry averages of 21% and 24%, respectively.
But only 25% of finance employees said their company offers workshops on resilience or coping strategies for stress and anxiousness, which is below average. So it’s not surprising that 40% of finance employees put this type of training on their wish list.
Government workers reported the most managerial support for mental health (58%), far above average (44%), as well as the most supportive workplace culture (66%), much greater than the average (42%). But government workers said they want their organization to offer these benefits:
- Mental health tools. Forty-two percent said they wish their employer offered a solution for stress, anxiousness, and sleep.
- Wellness stipends. Only 11% of government employees said they have access to wellness stipends, which is two times lower than average. More than 70% of respondents said they wish their organization offered them.
- Mental health days off. Close to 60% of government employees wish their employer offered mental health days off. Only about 20% of employees said they get them today.
Employers across all industries need to fill gaps in mental health support
While employers are starting to offer mental health support, and some industries are doing better than others, key gaps exist.
According to employees, only one-third of employers, on average, provide a mental health solution to manage stress, anxiousness, and sleep. And only one-third of employers, on average, provide workshops on employee resilience, coping strategies, and mindful managers.
That means that close to 70% of employers are failing to provide preventive mental health support for employees at a time when risk factors for mental health conditions are high. What’s more, nearly 70% of employees believe employers should offer mental health solutions to help them manage stress, anxiousness, and sleep.
As employers across all industries shape the new world of work, they need to take a proactive, preventive approach to employee mental well-being. Listening to employees and understanding their needs is the first step.
To find out more workplace mental health trends and insights, download our 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report.