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4 companies that are prioritizing mental health programs
Mental health and well-being programs have been on employers’ radars for some time now, yet many companies are unaware of the number of employees who need help and how to offer them assistance.

Without sufficient access to mental health programs, employees are more likely to be less productive and take days off, which the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health estimates will cost employers about $80 to $100 billion in indirect costs.

Overall, nearly one in five adults — 43.8 million people — in the United States has a mental health or addiction issue, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Four global companies are tackling their mental health programs and offering best practices, according to a new survey conducted by The Conference Board, a global business research firm, and these companies are.
Financial services company Barclays wanted to engage its 129,400 employees globally with storytelling to destigmatize mental health problems. The company launched its “This is Me” campaign, where employees shared elements of their personal life not exclusive to mental health problems. Since the video series launched in 2014, Barclays shared nearly 200 stories and garnered more than 60,000 visits to the web page.

“The organization is retaining talent as more employees successfully return to work after mental health-related leaves of absence,” says Amanda Popiela, author of The Conference Board’s “Mental Health and
Well-being in the Workplace” report.

Twenty-two companies in the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa used Barclays’ model to create their own version of the campaign, which has reached nearly 400,000 employees, according to the report.
The consumer goods company known for brands like Dove and Lipton has taken a holistic approach to its well-being program. The program has four tenets — physical, emotional, mental and purposeful — to make sure that its 170,000 global employees are receiving the care they need. About half of all U.K. line managers have attended a three-hour workshop to recognize signs of mental health distress, for example. Managers are not expected to fix the problem but rather direct employees to services like an employee assistance program, says Popiela.

In 2015, Unilever reported a return of $11.19 (10 Euro) for every $1 (1 Euro) spent on the well-being initiative due to an increase in employee engagement and productivity and a reduction in absenteeism.
Although retail banking company RBS has focused on well-being over the past 15 years, it wasn’t until 2014 that it dedicated time and resources to help its line managers handle their teams’ mental health. The company implemented its “Determined to Lead” program, which set clear and consistent expectations for how to lead employees. RBS gives managers access to support tools as well to better support their employees. By early 2016, more than 15,000 managers were trained through this program to better serve 73,000 RBS employees globally.

In addition to the leadership program, RBS supports the “Time to Change” pledge — a mental health campaign in England that aims to reduce stigma and discrimination — and offers a targeted mental health awareness program to equip line managers with tools to identify, manage and support mental health issues in the workplace. The company also has a mental health toolkit available to employees to recognize mental health conditions and learn strategies to manage their well-being, according to the report.
Bupa UK
This international healthcare group with 33,000 global employees has leveraged data and analytics to define the focus of its well-being program and track progress and effectiveness. Bupa UK uses its own app, Bupa Boost, to determine what its employees — and the general population — want from its wellness program: a way to address hydration, exercise, nutrition and sleep. Similarly, data can determine how employees think about their program and senior leadership in regards to mental health.

For Bupa UK, the research found that 68% of business leaders cited a “stiff upper lip attitude” at the executive level, which creates barriers for achieving a successful program, according to the report. Leadership by-in, with visible participation, is the company’s key to creating a legitimate program.