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CEOs are receiving a fresh playbook to enhance workers’ mental health

Led by an A-list of C-suite executives, a fresh nonprofit is creating a playbook to steer companies in supporting employees’ mental health, and also a free online clearinghouse for anybody seeking help.

Why it matters: Recognizing that burnout from the pandemic has even reached the corner office, Project Healthy Minds is wanting to lessen the stigma of mental illness by getting CEOs to talk openly about their struggles also to enact meaningful policies.

Driving the news headlines: Project Healthy Minds is building what it calls the “first direct-to-consumer digital mental health marketplace” a one-stop look for finding an emergency hotline, a psychiatrist, a drug abuse cure or other relevant help.

  • “You want to build an Expedia.com for mental health services,” says Phillip Schermer, founder and CEO of Project Healthy Minds, who previously helped map mental health strategy at BlackRock.
  • Another mission would be to partner with business leaders, celebrities and public officials who’ll talk openly concerning the need for mental health perhaps their very own.
  • A third would be to create national standards to steer companies’ mental health efforts a concern of tantamount importance to millennials and Gen Z.

“In an understanding economy, we are in need of workers that are mentally strong and resilient,” says Schermer.

Who’s up to speed: Supporters of Project Healthy Minds include Bill Kolb, chairman and former CEO of McCann Worldgroup; Jeff Raider, co-founder of Warby Parker and Harry’s; Jacqui Canney, chief people officer at ServiceNow; and Brian Offutt, chief workforce innovation and operations officer at Weber Shandwick.

What they’re saying: Through the pandemic, “you’d employees absolutely on the edge,” said Kolb, adding that several McCann employees had recently died by suicide.

  • Severely rattled by those deaths, Kolb personally called the employee assistance program (EAP) hotline to check his company’s safeguards and was continued hold for 12 minutes.
  • Whenever a human found, “the very first thing I had to accomplish was not discuss the truth that I’m going to kill myself, but tell my employee ID number,” Kolb recalled.
  • From then on, “we started doing things really, really rapidly” to greatly help, like offering the Headspace app and “Wellness Wednesdays,” where guest speakers discuss mental health hygiene.
  • The business also started training all workers to be “mental health advocates,” also to have the ability to recognize emotional distress in colleagues among others.

“Regardless of just how much brainpower, time or effort you placed on this, there is no silver bullet no magic pill,” Kolb tells Axios. “It is a multiplicity of items that you need to do consistently, rather than take your foot off the gas.”

Where it stands: McCann Worldgroup hired Project Healthy Minds to create a mental health training curriculum because of its executive board and its own next-most-senior executives.

  • Kolb “thought it had been important that leaders get trained on these topics,” said Schermer, noting that the curriculum was built-in collaboration with the National Network of Depression Centers.

By the numbers: A Project Healthy Minds survey found a disconnect between millennial and Gen Z workers’ expectations and what they’re getting.

  • 2 out of 3 consider their mental health whenever choosing an employer.
  • Only half say their employer is supportive of these mental health.
  • 77% say they’d leave employment if it had been harming their mental health.

What’s next: Project Healthy Minds plans to compile a robust library of research on guidelines in mental health programs, plus develop metrics where companies could be assessed.

  • There is a dependence on “standardized measurements” that prospective employees can look at, Schermer said.
  • Investors who evaluate companies by the yardstick of “ESG” environmental, social and governance practices might use a firm’s mental health policies in an effort to size up its “social” performance.

Underneath line: “We’re in underneath of the initial inning of an extended game in reimagining what this means for companies to aid employee mental health,” Schermer says.

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