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Workplace stress or something else? Tools to support your employees’ mental health

We all deal with stress in our everyday lives. But when stress or worry grows into constant alarm or hopelessness, it could indicate a medical condition that requires more support. Anxiety and depression can affect every part of a person’s life, from personal relationships to physical health and job performance.

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is defined as “feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of the U.S. population each year, making it the most common mental illness in the country. Depression is characterized by a lack of interest in daily activities along with physical symptoms, such as weight fluctuations, fatigue, or changes in sleeping habits. For individuals in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44, depression is the leading cause of disability.[1],[2]

Your employees’ mental health plays a large role in the success of your business. In fact, employees who are distracted by overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression often can’t fully contribute to their workplace and on average will be absent 21 days per year.[3] Employers who are not addressing the mental health needs of their employees are neglecting their most valuable resource.

How can you help?

  • Ensure access to mental health services. By offering your employees health insurance that includes access to mental health care professionals and resources, you can play a crucial role in helping your employees get the care they need.
  • Utilize HR tools to help evaluate employee work-related stress. Through HR tools such as annual reviews, employee interviews, and engagement surveys, you can gain insight into the major stressors that your employees are facing and use that information to help formulate an action plan.
  • Expand trainings and seminars to include stress management methods. Once you have an understanding of the factors that might cause stress in your workplace, think about how professional trainings and development programs may be able to help your employees manage that stress with techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or team-building activities.

UPMC Health Plan resources for those struggling with anxiety or depression

Sometimes proactively addressing mental health in the workplace isn’t enough. When stress, anxiety, and depression start interfering with everyday life, it’s important that individuals get help. UPMC Health Plan has a number of resources available to help members who feel they are struggling, no matter the severity.

  • Premier mental health providers and hospitals. UPMC traces its roots to mental health services, starting with access to UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and expanding its outstanding mental health services to patients at facilities like UPMC Mercy, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, UPMC Pinnacle, and UPMC Susquehanna.
  • Health coaching. UPMC Health Plan can provide members with the motivation and support they need from a licensed health coach. The Less Stress program is a six-week health coaching course that helps participants learn techniques to manage their stress.
  • Employee assistance program. Workpartners offers an employee assistance program, LifeSolutions, which helps employees stay focused by providing assistance with overcoming challenges that might cause stress. Services for employees include personalized consultants who can provide employees with referrals to over 100,000 community resources, access to online work-life resources (including trainings and self-assessments), and support in overcoming challenges related to daily living needs (such as child care, legal concerns, or financial matters).

Stress is part of life and every workplace comes with its own unique challenges, but your employees don’t need to handle them alone. Employee well-being is increasingly recognized as a crucial component of an engaged, productive workforce. Employers who address the mental health needs of their employees set up their teams and business for long-term success.

Additional resources

Resources for Pennsylvania residents:

National resources:

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[1] American Psychological Association. (2019). Psychology Topics: Anxiety. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from American Psychological Association:

[2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). About ADAA: Facts & Statistics. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

[3] WorkPartners. (2019). Employee Assistance Programs. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from WorkPartners: