The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently issued a new advisory to urgently address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Even before COVID-19, one in five children in America were living with a mental health disorder or illness that impacted their daily living. Within families, parents struggle to manage their child’s emotional well being. On a professional level, employers struggle to manage increased absenteeism, presenteeism and job dissatisfaction among working parents. These symptoms result in employees struggling to meet deadlines or fulfill job responsibilities. This blog post will explore how parents are affected by the growing mental health crisis in youth and how employers can help them.

Understanding the Scope of the Problem

Before employers can address the issue, they must first understand its scope. Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are increasingly prevalent in young people. This trend is accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused decreased social interaction, financial insecurity, and disrupted routines—which all contribute to poor mental health outcomes. As a result, it’s likely that more employees will be dealing with mental health issues than ever before.

Why Employers Should Pay Attention

Employers need to be aware of the mental health crisis among youth. By understanding the issue, employers  can better prepare their organizations for potential changes in employee behavior and performance due to mental health concerns.  When employers support working parents and their children, their proactive solutions can address problems before they develop, for the good of their community and their organization.

Making Changes at Workplace Level

Once employers are aware of the issue, they can start taking steps towards addressing it. It’s important for employers to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their issues and seeking help if needed. This could include implementing initiatives such as offering flexible work schedules or providing access to employee assistance programs (EAPs). EAPs offer counseling services that can support people with anxiety and depression in getting back on track. Additionally, employers should promote open dialogue about mental health by hosting workshops or seminars on the topic and encouraging employees to talk openly about their experiences without fear of judgment or stigma. All of these services are invaluable for working parents and any employees struggling with mental illness.

Caring for Employee Families Too

Beyond supporting employees directly, employers should consider how they can help employee families dealing with similar issues at home. These efforts  could involve providing resources such as access to free counseling services or offering discounted rates on care providers like therapists or psychiatrists who specialize in pediatric mental health. Employers can also offer financial support when necessary by covering expenses related to mental health treatment or offering additional PTO so parents can take care of their child’s needs without worrying about missing work hours or losing their job.

 In order for employers to effectively respond to this growing crisis among youth, they need to create comprehensive policies that promote employee wellness. These policies should include clear guidelines for taking time off work for family medical appointments or their own mental health days. When offering these benefits, employers need sufficient knowledge  of employee privacy laws so that managers do not inadvertently disclose an employee’s private information.

The U.S Surgeon General issued a new Surgeon General’s Advisory highlighting the urgent need for action in addressing our nation’s youth mental health crisis—and it’s clear that employers have an important role to play! By understanding what this crisis looks like, employers can take steps towards creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel supported both mentally and financially. These actions will help ensure that youth get the care they need during this difficult time.