By Denise Brodey
Have you thought about asking people with lived experience what would make a substantial difference in their lives when they’re battling stress, anxiety, depression or pain? Would you guess that lack of personal time or lack of access to a therapist is most detrimental to your employees mental health? In the coming year, I predict those questions will be keeping employers up at night. If your demeanor is as dry-eyed as the depiction of royalty in The Crown this season, don’t worry. Workers don’t actually want their boss or employers’ advice. It’s quite the opposite. Here’s the truth, plus five mind-blowing statistics to share with colleagues.
1. Bots Over Bosses. In a Workplace Initiative study, 64% of people said when it comes to stress and anxiety, they’d choose a robot to talk to over their manager. It was no small study either. Oracle surveyed 12,000 employees at all levels across 11 countries to determine what role humans should play. Before you say, Here we go again, it’s technology that’s ruining our lives, I can put these findings in context. People prefer chatbots because they are a judgment-free zone, according to the study. What that says to me is that you may think you’re not judgmental or biased against people who show their feelings, but you probably are. That’s why thousands say they’d rather not talk to their boss, no matter how many well-intended they are.
Mind-blowing Statistic: A BlueSky California New State of Mind survey collected 65,000 tips on youth mental health via an online survey. The tips, including reaching out to online support groups at the top of the list, are geared toward youth looking for ways to lower pandemic stress. Aside from the volume of advice, the optimism shown in them is comforting, according to DoSomething.org, which partnered on the study.
2. Depression: A Formidable Enemy
Still, employers underestimate its devastating effect on this country’s workers and their families. According to Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky, it is the most damaging disease a person can experience. How much do you know about how care is being dispersed to your employees and how effective it is? Probably not much. You might start with a meat-and-potatoes medical explanation of depression from a professor who has one of the most popular lectures on the topic on YouTube. Now that you understand how depression moves through your body, think in the same way about how it affects your workforce. When you develop a set of programs that are built on need, your business will thrive as will the people in it.
Mind-blowing Statistic “Depression is crippling. By 2024 it will be the second most dangerous disease worldwide, just behind diabetes-related disorders, he says in the video.
3. Don’t We All Have ADHD?
No, actually, we don’t all have ADHD. One in five adults has a learning or attention disability but the ones who have been diagnosed aren’t likely to be waving their LD flag for all to see on Zoom. In my experience as a woman diagnosed late in life with ADHD and other learning disabilities, I’ve observed that men may be diagnosed more often but seem less driven to find resources. For men with ADHD, there’s such shame that I recommend starting with a peer group. One such group is ADHD Mens Support Group, founded by Marc Almodovar. If you have a learning disability, his free men’s support group or others like it on social media is a solid option. He is one of many young, emerging mental health advocates who is proving that often it is peer-to-peer interaction that is most helpful for people with learning disabilities such as ADHD and dyslexia.
Mind-blowing Statistic: Bias is a bigger problem than you may have guessed. “We found that 50% stated they would be uncomfortable employing or line managing someone with at least one of the conditions,” according to an Institute of Leadership and Management study that asked pointedly if people would be comfortable employing staff who are neurodivergent (meaning autistic, dyslexic or ADHD workers). That 50% stat? It left me speechless and sad. I think neurodivergent pride, not a focus on inclusion, is the best rebuttal to such bias.
4. Caregiving Is A Mental Health Issue
Think of part of your managerial role as accepting that every day is a mental health awareness day, particularly for parents and caregivers. If your legal department pushes back on you offering more advice, push forward in small, impactful ways. During Safety Week at your plant, for example, ask your communications department to cover how stress and lack of sleep affect work. Get real with parents, grandparents and caregivers on your staff. Look both inside and out of the disability and mental health community for help. For parents, for example, there’s The Fifth Trimester, a movement to help parents and businesses revolutionize workplace culture together. Caregiving in a pandemic makes even the simplest daily tasks difficult for seniors and people with disabilities. AARP offers a guide for caregivers.
Originally posted on Forbes