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Mental Health Divide: A New Study By The Hartford Finds Employers Think They Have Supportive Workplaces With Flexibility But U.S. Workers Disagree

October 15, 2020
  • Employees report being anxious and depressed but worry about privacy and are reluctant to seek help at work
  • The Hartford partners with National Alliance on Mental Illness to break down stigma and encourage support and treatment

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- New data from The Hartford found a majority of employers (68%) believe they foster an open and inclusive work environment that encourages a dialogue about mental health, but less than half (42%) of U.S. workers agree. Only 44% of working adults feel they have flexibility in their schedule to get the mental health help they need, compared with 71% of employers who believe they offer the flexibility.

Today, The Hartford announced a new partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Together, The Hartford and NAMI will help employers and employees understand how to reduce stigma in the workplace and encourage those with mental health conditions to seek support.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health challenges facing the workforce and cannot be ignored by employers,” said The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift. “Together with NAMI, we hope to further a national dialogue about mental health and inspire leaders to embrace a stigma-free culture within their companies and communities.”

The Hartford’s 2020 Future of Benefits Study: Mental Health in the Workplace, which polled U.S. workers and human resource professionals in early March and mid-June, revealed a majority of employers (59%) believe mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are a significant workplace issue. While 64% of employers feel prepared to address their employees’ mental health conditions, more than half of workers (56%) said they have privacy concerns about sharing mental health information with their employer/co-workers.

The pandemic affected employees’ mental health:

  • Nearly half of employees (48%) reported their anxiety level has increased since COVID.
  • Approximately one quarter (24%) of employees said they struggled with depression or anxiety on a daily or weekly basis in June, a slight increase compared to those surveyed in March (20%).
  • Gen Z and younger Millennials (1995-2002), were nearly three times more likely to experience struggles with depression or anxiety most days or few times a week than workers who are considered Boomers (1955-1966).

“NAMI applauds The Hartford’s effort to survey the mental health concerns of employees and help employers address the issues highlighted by creating an inclusive workplace environment,” said Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of NAMI. “Especially during these difficult times, treatment can make a positive impact on anyone struggling with their mental health. We know that reducing stigma and getting help early makes a difference. We call on fellow business leaders to join us in creating a new standard for employee benefits that include mental health resources which not only improve the lives of employees, but also the overall success of the company.”

To help cultivate an inclusive workspace, NAMI recommends employees and employers:

  • Learn the facts about mental health conditions. Even though one in five U.S. adults experiences some form of mental illness each year, misconceptions linger about those who live with a mental illness;
  • Use respectful and first-person language to talk about mental health conditions, such as “people with mental illness” instead of “the mentally ill” and
  • Offer support if you think someone is having trouble. The NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI provides information on resources. Additionally, if someone is in a crisis, text "NAMI" to 741741 for 24/7 support via text message.

NAMI also suggests employers:

  • Offer mental health education for managers and employees, which should include information about mental health conditions, potential warning signs, and how to protect privacy;
  • Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs that help employees handle stress and emotional pressures; and
  • Communicate often about mental health benefits so that employees know what resources are available to them and their families.

Mental health conditions are among the top five reasons for U.S. workers to file a short-term disability claim, according to The Hartford’s disability claims data.1 Mental illness can prolong a person’s recovery from an injury or disease, an analysis of workers’ compensation and disability data revealed. 2 A person diagnosed with a primary injury or illness, along with the presence of psychological factors, such as anxiety or depression, takes two to three times longer to recover than someone with similar injuries or illness and no additional psychological factors.

“As a leading group benefits and workers’ compensation provider, we are in the business of underwriting human achievement – helping thousands of workers each year return to active, productive lives after an injury or illness,” Swift said. “We are committed to eradicating stigma that threatens human achievement so that more people can prevail.”

In their new partnership, The Hartford and NAMI will hold a free webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. with new details about the national research, as well as solutions for employers and employees in order to bridge the mental health divide. During the virtual event, NAMI’s Chief Medical Officer Ken Duckworth, M.D., will outline how to foster stigma-free company cultures during this challenging time. The Hartford’s Claims leaders will talk about the connection between mental health and employee productivity. The webinar is open to the public, but registration is required.

In addition, NAMI experts will speak at virtual events this year for The Hartford’s employees, as part of NAMI’s StigmaFree Company program.


The Hartford’s 2020 Future of Benefits Study was an online survey fielded in two waves. The first wave was fielded from Feb. 27 – March 13, 2020, just before the pandemic escalated in the United States, and included 761 employers and 1,503 employees. The second wave was fielded from June 15 – June 30, 2020 and included 567 employers and 1,038 employees. The employers surveyed were human resource professionals who manage/decide employee benefits, and employees surveyed were actively employed. The margin of error is employer +/- 4% and employee +/-3% at a 95% confidence level.

About NAMI

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. | | |

About The Hartford

The Hartford is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at Follow us on Twitter at @TheHartford_PR.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., (NYSE: HIG) operates through its subsidiaries under the brand name, The Hartford, and is headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. For additional details, please read The Hartford’s legal notice.


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q, and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

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Top five reasons for STD claims for last four years, excluding pregnancy, were musculoskeletal injury, cancers and other neoplasms, digestive conditions, and mental health conditions
2 Analysis of four years (2014-2018) of The Hartford’s workers’ compensation and disability claims data

Kelly Carter

Source: The Hartford

Multimedia Files:

Mental Health in the Workplace pdf?download=1
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