Employers worldwide are highlighting their dedication to inclusivity and social fairness in response to international demonstrations for racial justice. Organizations must make sure workers from a variety of backgrounds can receive quality mental health care in order to fulfil this obligation; this is a problem that has gone unaddressed for far too long. Current instances of racism and violence, as well as COVID-19's health inequities, are having an adverse effect on mental health. In Black and Latino communities, anxiety and depressive symptoms have more than quadrupled this year, peaking following the death of George Floyd, according to one research. The health inequities caused by Covid-19 are also to blame; Black and Latino Americans have a threefold increased risk of contracting the virus compared to white Americans and a nearly twofold increased risk of dying from it. Movements for racial justice are spreading outside of the United States and inspiring demands for international action.
Every firm should view inclusive, accessible mental health as a new strategic goal given the effect on workers and communities. Action must be taken right away to close long-standing inequalities and inequities in mental health treatment. The impact of racial discrimination and racial trauma on mental well-being is serious and cannot be disregarded. According to Dan Gillison, Head of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in a statement, I t is impossible to overlook the gap in the availability of mental health services in communities of colour. It is impossible to overlook the disparities and absence of cultural sensitivity in mental health care.
Employers must prioritize mental well-being for both their workplace and their community as they fight to promote racial justice. They can carry out a number of significant acts, including:
Emphasize the relationship between inclusiveness and mental health
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) and mental health are intimately related. The absence of representation, implicit bias, internalized prejudice, and other stresses can have an adverse effect on an employee's psychological and mental workplace safety. Therefore, programs that promote belonging, diversity, and inclusion may also promote mental health, and vice versa. Employers should ensure workers from various backgrounds get the mental health assistance they require, including employee resource groups, counselling services, and mental health screening tools, as they emphasise D&I and social equality. This might be a key component of an efficient D&I approach and expenditure.
Manager education and empowerment
In a crisis, managers can act as the "first responders" to handle mental health. Support for workers from different backgrounds may be provided more quickly if managers are trained, educated, and given the authority to lead on issues related to inclusiveness and mental health as well as how the two interact. Managers may be most equipped to manage these delicate matters with specific workers, guiding them to the best resources available and helping to address their worries and questions.
Expand access to culturally appropriate care
Inequalities in the accessibility of mental health treatment are startling: Asians, Latinos, and Black people are all using mental healthcare at significantly lower rates than White people (51%, 25%, and 21%, respectively). These voids are created by a number of factors, such as stigma, prejudice, a scarcity of service, and a paucity of providers, particularly those from varied backgrounds. For instance, below 20% of psychologists working in the United States are of Black, Latino, or Asian descent.
Employers may increase all employees' access to inclusive, efficient mental health treatments. Organizations should use their power to fight for healthcare provision systems, insurance networks, and policymaking that are sensitive to cultural differences. Employers can also contribute to developing, testing, and expanding digital health products that address access gaps, especially as the COVID-19 epidemic hastens the move toward telehealth services.
Putting words into practice
An unprecedented, worldwide movement for racial justice is bringing together businesses, nonprofits, governments, and society. The importance of mental well-being in this discussion and commitment must be acknowledged. Employers may emphasize mental well-being as a crucial requirement at the core of this dilemma as they transition from words to deeds.