The Connection Between Mental Health and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mental health is a term which can cover a multitude of different issues. However, it is important to note that mental health can be affected by diversity, equity, and inclusion.

According to a Forbes article, mental health and diversity and inclusion (D&I) are interrelated, pointing out how employees from diverse backgrounds may be faced with several issues such as lack of representation; microaggressions; unconscious bias as well as other factors that could impact their psychological wellbeing.

A 2014 examination by the Cabinet Office Race Disparity Unit revealed that, of Black/Black British women surveyed, 29% reported suffering from a common mental health disorder during their working week preceding the inquiry. Comparatively, 29% of Mixed Other and Asian women disclosed experiencing similar conditions as well. These figures are significantly higher than those experienced by White British women or Other White women – 21% and 16%, respectively. Women from ethnically diverse backgrounds may be more likely to experience discrimination and racist abuse; which can lead to increased stress, hyper-awareness of difference, intensified psychosis and depression – as well as an array of other mental health issues including trauma symptoms such as anxiety, emotional distress or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Diversity means that everyone in an organisation or community should feel comfortable and respected. This includes people with different backgrounds and experiences. Equally important, diversity allows organisations to better understand their customers and communities. Inclusion means that everyone in an organisation or community is given the opportunity to participate fully and have a say in how things are run. This includes people with different abilities, perspectives, and cultures.

Despite being a priority for many enterprises, mental health remains low on the list. Companies must devote considerable effort towards promoting accessibility to psychological support systems for all personnel – especially those with marginalised identities – as it is imperative that they have access to assistance when they require it.

Here are three steps to get started in becoming a diverse and inclusive workplace when it comes to mental health.

  1. Review health systems and policies and identify any weaknesses based on mental health AND DEI

Investigate the array of advantages that accrue to your employees. If possible, provide mental health benefits that can be tailored to individual requirements by augmenting provider networks and expanding out-of-network coverage. Not only do we need more qualified professionals from various backgrounds who are capable of comprehending and aiding those suffering with similar situations – but we also require more people from diverse experiences so as not to alienate any particular demographic cohort in terms of empathy or understanding for their plight.

  • Gather data around employee engagement to keep tabs on the status of morale within your organisation.

Monitor the company’s culture and provide HR and business leaders with insightful early warning signs of team members’ moods, morale levels, and engagement – while creating a culture that is focused on employee well-being.

  • What is the state of employee energy within the business?
  • Is it high-level and enthusiastic, or subdued with little motivation to engage?
  • What about engagement levels – are they on an uptick or have we seen signs of decline recently?
  • Has a recent modification in policy impacted company culture – should we be worried that this might eventually lead to deterioration in its vibrancy over time?

Utilise these insights to refine policies and practices within the company, thus making it a healthy and equitable workplace for all employees.

  • Maintain the conversation and ensure it doesn’t dwindle.

Despite the obviousness of this point, more communication is always preferable to none. A Harvard Business Review reported that almost 60% of employees have never spoken up about their mental health status with anyone at work; managers are typically the first point-person when it comes to giving employees a chance to voice any concerns in times of crisis. It’s essential that you remain receptive and show an open mind when conversing with those who seek advice – whilst still adhering strictly within the parameters set by them.

Employees with mental health conditions are no less valuable than their peers. We must remain steadfast in providing support to varying communities during their journey to seek assistance.