Benefits Strategy


Prevention and Customization: Two Keys to Supporting Workforce Mental Health

New Calm Business “Pathways” guide employees to engage with preventive tools and content designed to address their specific mental health challenges.

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The Calm Team

4 min read

When it comes to workforce mental health, organizations face a glaring gap. On one hand, nearly two of three employees (64%) say they’re struggling with mental health issues, most commonly stress and anxiety. On the other hand, fewer than 20% of employees used their mental health benefits in 2022. Despite employers’ focused efforts in the past few years to address employee mental health, the majority of employees aren’t getting the support they need to achieve well-being.

The gap isn’t just alarming; it’s unsustainable. If employers can’t close it, they risk seeing a rise in employee burnout, chronic and costly health issues, missed work days, and, ultimately, unwanted attrition. 

What can organizations do? Although several factors likely contribute to the gap, including the mental health stigma, research has exposed two common weaknesses in organizations’ mental health strategies:

  • A lack of proactive, preventive tools that employees can use consistently in their daily routines
  • A lack of guidance to help employees engage with the resources that can help them most

With Calm Business’s new features, organizations can resolve both issues and help the majority of their employees get the mental health support they need.  

Employees need and want more preventive mental health support

Despite having reached the other side of the pandemic, only 25% of employees say their mental health has improved in the past year, while 75% say their mental health has stayed the same or worsened.

A staggering 78% of Gen Zers and 75% of millennials report struggling with their mental health, with nearly 50% pointing to stress or anxiety as their primary issue. Workplace stress and financial loss are having the greatest impact on employee mental health, Calm research shows.  

The good news? Improving overall mental health is one of employees’ top priorities this year. Managing stress, including work-related stress, and managing disorders like anxiety and depression represent two of employees’ top five priorities

They’re looking to their employers for help. About 80% of workers say they want to work for an employer that offers mental health support, according to an American Psychological Association survey, and 69% of Gen Zers say their employers should help them take care of their stress and anxiousness specifically, Calm research shows.

Employers are starting to embrace preventive mental health solutions

Despite this, only 39% of employers offer tools or apps aimed at preventing or reducing stress and anxiousness, according to a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Survey Report. A much larger percentage of employers (71%) instead offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide counseling or legal assistance. Although EAPs are critical resources for employees, they tend to have single-digit utilization rates because of limits on the number of sessions, concerns about confidentiality, and common misconceptions that EAPs are for emergency or crisis situations only, among other factors.  

With workplace stress at all-time highs, however, employers are beginning to add preventive mental health solutions to their portfolios, even in an uncertain economic climate. Calm research shows that the top two benefits they’re adding are preventive benefits and tools to address stress, burnout, anxiety and sleep issues and digital mental health clinical therapy benefits. Leading organizations are also training managers to be more mindful, and they’re integrating mental health breaks into the workday to help employees reset and de-stress. It’s a multipronged approach to mental health that’s proactive rather than reactive.

On top of offering preventive tools, employers need to drive employee engagement in their mental health

Focusing on prevention isn’t enough. To make an impact on employee mental health and well-being, employers must improve employee engagement with mental health benefits and tools.

Here, too, employers can take a multipronged approach, including providing tools that are easy to use (90% of employees say easy-to-use benefits are best-in-class support) and improving communication about them (21% of employees say their employer never communicates with them about the importance of seeking preventive care, for example). 

Alongside easy-to-use benefits and better communication, customization is key. One reason employees tend not to use their EAP is their perception that the solution is not meant for them. The more that organizations offer mental health tools that link directly to employees’ mental health challenges, the more employee engagement employers can expect to see.

Calm Business’s new feature, Pathways, guides employees to engage with resources and content targeting their mental health challenges

Pathways, a new Calm Business feature, gives employers the power of customization on top of ease of use and streamlined communication. 

With Pathways, employers can deploy curated collections of in-app content to employee populations based on insights about their specific mental health challenges. For example, if an employee population needs help managing stress or feelings of being overwhelmed, the employer can deploy an automated Pathway to deliver a set of practical tools and content in the Calm app that teach people relevant techniques they can use in their daily lives.

Each Pathway allows employees to engage at their own pace in a self-serve manner and then guides them through using tools that target their specific needs. In addition to Pathways about managing stress and burnout, Calm Business offers Pathways for setting boundaries and building self-care routines, and more are coming.

Pathways provides a closed-loop experience for benefits leaders. At the front end, they can gain insights about their employees’ mental health challenges through Mood Check-ins and Content Topic data and use those insights to deploy targeted Pathways. On the back end, they can measure program effectiveness on the basis of a wide range of metrics, including total sign-ups, total users who opted in to the program, and total number of employees engaged, as well as participation/engagement over time.  Employers also can see which content resonated most with their employees. 

Delivering a new mental health experience for employees

Employers are committed to improving the mental health and well-being of their employees, even in an uncertain economic climate. But traditional, reactive approaches aren’t working. To improve workforce mental health, employers need proactive, preventive tools that employees can easily integrate into their daily routines to reduce stress, anxiousness, and sleep issues before they become more serious health problems. 

They also need to drive employee engagement by making it easy for employees to access and use mental health resources that target their specific challenges. 

With the new Pathways feature, Calm Business does both. For more information on how Calm Business can help you improve employee mental health and well-being, contact a Calm specialist today

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