Why equitable mental health care for women matters
In 2019, more than half the US labor force was women, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But if you break apart the number of women in management and c-suite executive roles, you’ll find a dramatic gap between genders and workplace recognition as well as burnout rates.
For example, in their 2021 Women in the Workplace report, McKinsey & Company found that for every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 89 white women were, and only 85 women of color. Further, of the 423 organizations surveyed (including 65,000 individuals surveyed), only 4% of C-suite leaders were women of color, which McKinsey says is a stagnant statistic.
The effects of this disparity aren’t without consequences. According to McKinsey, women are experiencing considerably higher rates of burnout and chronic stress in the workplace, prompting one in three women to consider downshifting their career or leaving the workplace entirely. Massive turnover and market churn in the past year point to the potential truth of acting on those considerations.
In order to keep women in the workplace, employers must provide personalized mental health services and resources that help women with the extra stress they carry for doing twice the work with none of the recognition of their male counterparts. Without improved support and available providers, the workforce stands to lose women who play a huge part in improving team dynamics and reaching major goals.
When considering leaders who look inward and practice cultural humility, McKinsey tells us that “women leaders also spend more time than men on DEI work that falls outside their formal job responsibilities,” including spending twice as much time weekly as men to supporting employee resource groups and recruiting from underrepresented groups. These considerations play a huge role in an organization’s success, as prior surveys have shown that companies with larger BIPOC employee representation achieved higher than their competitors.
However, it must be noted that women of color continue to fall further behind men and white women in being recognized for their work and being promoted to leadership opportunities. And while three-quarters of white employees surveyed reported considering themselves an ally, only 30% of white women considered promoting women of color to be an act of allyship in the workplace.
According to McKinsey, women in leadership roles take supporting their employees' health and work more seriously than their male counterparts. Those individuals with a woman manager or executive reported a higher likelihood of feeling that they were overall supported, that their manager was helping them to navigate work-life challenges and that their workload was being managed to reduce burnout. This research suggests that continuing to promote women into leadership roles could help to reduce overall turnover while improving workplace engagement.
All of this is to say that the higher rate of employee support, DEI considerations, and the added stress of being the only woman on a leadership team isn’t without negative effects. More than 40% of women surveyed reported experiencing burnout at work—nearly 10% higher than the men surveyed. Black women and women with disabilities reported the highest rates of experiencing microaggressions—a commonplace slight against a person in an underrepresented group—which compounds existing stress in the workplace.
Women in the workplace need resources and support from their employers to manage their stress and reduce their chances of burnout. These mental health resources should come in various forms, allowing the individual to tailor their care to their unique needs—whether that’s a support group for women in underrepresented groups seeking healing or 1:1 sessions with a culturally competent therapist or counselor.
Improved support for women experiencing chronic stress in the workplace shows an investment in those key players and much-needed support for their continued growth.
Modern Health combines mental health care and technology to deliver a personalized employee experience that improves health outcomes. We adapt clinical care to an employee’s needs whether it is low or high acuity care, and we provide support across 5 pillars of well-being through a combination of one-on-one care, group sessions, and digital self-guided resources. Additionally, employees can further personalize their care according to their language preferences and preferred provider demographics to ensure they receive the right care when they need it most. This empowers employees to build the lasting healthy habits they need to succeed at home and in the workplace. Request a demo if you’d like to learn how Modern Health can support your workforce.
Modern Health is the comprehensive mental wellness platform that combines the WHO well-being assessment, self-service wellness kits, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists available in 35 languages all in a single app. Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, de-stigmatizing the conversation, and increasing accessibility of mental health services for all.
What is Mental Health Awareness Month and why does it matter? This article shares the importance and benefits of providing employee well-being support during this important month and beyond.
Learn how we're helping employers and HR teams spot and manage depression to mitigate business risks. Learn more about recognizing early warning signs of depression in the workplace.