Mental health consists of our emotional, psychological, and social well-being – all of which influence peoples’ daily thoughts, feelings, and actions both at home and in the workplace (1). Mental health conditions are among the most common health conditions, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans (1 in 8 globally) experiencing mental illness in a given year (2). Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s mental health, increasing the prevalence of anxiety and major depressive disorders by 25% (2) 

Work plays a significant role in employee mental health. Factors such as long working hours, decreased social connection, and lack of autonomy or managerial support can all lead to poor mental health and overall employee burnout (3). For companies, this can translate into negative professional relationships, lower productivity, and higher rates of turnover and disability claims (4) 

With the growing need for mental health support, it is important for employers to implement strategies and solutions that meet their employees’ needs and create a culture that supports mental health and well-being in the workplace.  

The HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (HERO Scorecard) is a free online survey that was designed as an educational and benchmarking tool to help employers identify and assess their use of practices that support more effective health and well-being initiatives. Recently, the HERO Scorecard released new Best Practice Scores in three key areas to help organizations assess their health and well-being initiatives in these important areas:  Mental Health and Well-being; Social Determinants of Health; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This commentary will focus on the practices in the Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score and assess the differences in Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score by organization size, industry type, and geographic location.  

HERO Scorecard data were explored from 210 organizations that completed the HERO Scorecard Version 5 through September 30, 2022.  Organizations were categorized by size into small (<500; n=69), medium (500 to <5,000; n=83), and large (5,000+; n=54) organizations. Differences by industry type were assessed between financial (n=25), Hospitals/Healthcare clinics (n=21), Technical/professional services (n=27), Government (n=29), and High Tech (n=44) organizations. Finally, a comparison of mental health and well-being scores by geographic location was assessed by categorizing organizations into West (n=72), Midwest (n=52), Northeast (n=38), and South (n=46) regions.   

The Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice score was compiled from the workforce health and well-being practices listed throughout the Scorecard related to this area. The score is out of 100 points. A list of all the practices included in the Mental Health best practice score can be found in the HERO Scorecard user’s guide, but in brief includes practices from all six sections of the Scorecard (strategic planning, organizational and cultural support, programs, program integration, participation strategies, and measurement and evaluation). Examples of practices included in the Mental Health and Well-Being Best Practice Score include work environments that support stress management and recovery breaks; promotion of work-life balance; peer support; and access to therapy through an employee assistance program (EAP). Table 1 provides a breakdown of the number of practices and points by section for the Mental Health Best Practice Score.  

Table 1. Number of practices and points by Scorecard section  

  Number of practices  Points Contributed to Mental Health Best Practice Score 
Strategic planning  3  25 
Organizational & Cultural Support  11  35 
Programs  16  20 
Program Integration  1  1 
Participation Strategies  2  4 
Measurement & Evaluation  5  15 
Total  38  100 

 

The mean Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score for all respondents was 44 points. When comparing the Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score by organization size (Table 2), small organizations scored lower (32 points) than medium (46 points) and large (57 points) organizations.  

Table 2. A Comparison of Mental Health Best Practice Score by Organization Size 

  n  Mean 
All respondents  210  44 
Small (<500 employees)  69  32 
Mid-size (500 to <5000 employees)  83  46 
Large (5000 + employees)  54  57

Discrepancies were found when comparing the Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score by industry type (see Table 3).  Of the industry types with sufficient benchmarking data, financial services had the highest Mental Health and Well-being score, followed by hospitals/healthcare clinics and high-tech businesses. Government had the lowest Mental Health and Well-being score. Benchmarks will become available for additional industry types when there are at least 20 unique Scorecard completers in a specific industry.  

Table 3. A Comparison of Mental Health Best Practice Score by Industry Type 

  n  Mean 
Financial Services  25  61 
Hospitals/Healthcare clinics  21  51 
Technical/professional services  27  51 
Government  29  36 
High Tech  44  50 

 

The comparison by U.S. geographic regions only showed slight differences by region. On average, organizations in the Northeast region scored the highest with 48 points, followed by organizations in the South region with an average of 45 points. Organizations from the Mid-West region that completed the Scorecard had an average of 44 points and organizations in the West region of the US averaged 42 points. 

The results from this commentary show there is opportunity for employers to improve their HWB initiatives to address mental health and well-being. Employers who have received their Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score have found it to be a meaningful way to include specific mental health initiatives in their annual strategic planning.  By addressing mental health and well-being in the workplace, employers will help to improve the mental health and well-being of their employees, while also positively influencing business performance and profitability through better employee performance, engagement, retention, and overall well-being (4) 

The goal of the Scorecard’s new Best Practice Scores, including the Mental Health and Well-being Best Practice Score, is for organizations to assess their current health and well-being initiatives in a particular domain and gain insight that can inform  a strategic plan that has actionable steps to address the mental health and well-being impacting their employee population.  

1:  https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm 

2: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders 

3: https://hbr.org/2021/10/its-a-new-era-for-mental-health-at-work 

4: https://hbr.org/2018/11/we-need-to-talk-more-about-mental-health-at-work 

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