Prior to the pandemic, many companies had already begun to increase their focus on workplace mental health, often in response to employee demand. Employer efforts to provide mental health resources are even more imperative today as we've experienced a perfect storm. We're all living through the global pandemic. And there's been an increased focus on workplace diversity and inclusion programs driven by social unrest over the last few years.
So it's not been easy for employees. You heard the stats earlier, one in five adults experience mental health issues each year. This has worsened during the pandemic with increases in anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, surprisingly among younger adults. This growing phenomenon was the impetus for Guardian entering into a partnership with Spring Health to bring much needed mental health resources to our planholders and their employees. We have a shared commitment to support the holistic being of our customers.
And I'm glad you brought that up that Guardian is offering that. Certainly, Guardian is not alone in developing this. But many times, employers do offer some resources, perhaps it's in the AP, et cetera, but they're underutilized. So what tips do you have for improving employee utilization of mental or emotional or behavioral health resources?
Yes, so absolutely. So first off, 55% of adults with mental health disorders go untreated. So for me, that is the most astounding fact, 55%. So accessibility to care is one of the impediments. People don't know where to store. And even when they do, the system is confusing, difficult to navigate, which is further complicated by anxiety and perceived stigma. And that may come along with seeking care.
Benefits should be accessible with digital access and a variety of resources that flex to the needs of employees. Care options should include self-paced cognitive behavioral therapy tools as well as treatment aligned to the needs of each individual. This can include coaching, help navigating care, therapy, both digitally enabled or in person, and lastly, options for medication management.
Like with any benefits program, ensuring our employees are aware of their mental health resources that are available to them is critical. Take the time to communicate benefits often and work with your care provider to ensure there is visibility into employee utilization and the outcome is achieved.
Now, John, you mentioned a couple of moments ago that the rise in anxiety and depression during COVID was not only, but largely fueled by younger generations. So how can employers tailor their mental health offerings to fit differing expectations between different generations in the workplace?
Yeah. So you hit it right on. The pandemic has led to increased employee attrition with younger employees struggling most with mental health impacts. And companies now have to navigate the ripple effects of the great resignation of employees, which has been most prevalent with employees that are mid-career.
People are an organization's most valuable asset. And in order to attract and retain the best talent, companies need to demonstrate they care about their workforces health and well-being. So given the different needs and perceptions among generations, a one-size-fits-all approach may not work. There are, however, certain things you can do to tailor employee benefits for each generation.
For example, millennials value benefits choices, paid time off, ability to work remotely, control over their schedules, and a great deal of flexibility. Delivering on these needs may contribute to better mental health. Also, keep in mind that, historically, there's been a disconnect between employee needs and how employers are treating mental health. One way to counter this is to take the voice of your employees into account when considering options for benefits packages. Ask for suggestions. You may be surprised by the answers.
And bearing in mind that every organization is different - just like you were just saying every employee is different and the benefits need to be tailored to their needs - if you had to pick a few things, what would you say are some of the hallmarks of an effective mental and behavioral health benefit program?
First and foremost, recognize that employer resources must go towards improving employee well-being. That's why we're here having this discussion. Move from seeing mental health as an individual challenge to a collective priority. Signs of a robust mental health solution can include immediate access via digital tools, personalized and precise care with qualified resources, tools that adjust to an individual's circumstance, and dedicated care with diverse network providers.
Lastly, frequent and proactive outreach to drive improved outcomes and faster recovery is critical. Implementing these components can lead to real results. In addition, recognize company culture factors that can contribute to mental health issues with your employees - lack of tools and resources, emotionally draining work, lack of work-life balance, and a poor communication set of practices.
So it's not just about offering resources. Effectiveness requires cultural change. Measure results, survey your employees, implement top-down and bottoms-up strategies. And with flexibility to be remote, being here to stay in the future, implement more sustainable ways of working with your return to office practices.
So the last thing I'll leave you with is a McKinsey article I just read. It stated that the loss of productivity because of poor mental health might be as high as $1 trillion in the next year across the global economy. So it's not all doom and gloom. There is great news. There is an ROI for employers to offer focused solutions to improve employee well-being. Outcomes can include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved employee retention, and an ability to attract talent.
John, thank you for making those extremely important points. Clearly, this is an area where people can do more and where employees are looking for that. And to that end, when you were talking about company culture and the reminder that we do need to change our ways of working, especially remotely, I'd like to introduce a short video clip featuring Dr. Ellen Contente. This is from a mental health webinar she did last spring offering some tips on how we can all slow down and learn to take a break. Let's have a look.
We are spending way more time in front of our computers and our devices and sitting, which is unhealthy. I think I heard recently they were calling the amount of time that we're sitting that's the equivalent of smoking, I don't know, a couple packs of cigarettes a day. It's that unhealthy for the body.
So get up and move every hour, 90 minutes at the most. And use those 10-minute breaks to do some relaxation exercises, maybe do some meditation, but definitely get up and move a lot more.