CEO Spotlight

Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace: How CEOs can take the lead

Deloitte recently released its Summer 2022 Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey, which included 115 leaders across 15 industries who responded to a wide range of challenges as a result of the myriad crises we as a global community are facing. And there are many. Top concerns include finding talent, dealing with the anxiety and uncertainty of the market, inflation, supply chain disruption and trying to stay positive. Most CEOs remain steady in their personal well-being, yet it is clear there is a growing pessimism. While it is generally expected to continuously bear the torch of hope, we as CEO’S must acknowledge that we are human and not as bulletproof as we may wish to be. Witnessing a phenomenal economic turndown and the “great resignation” (as of November 2021 November, 4.53 million Americans quit their jobs), it is critical to take care of our mental health. And equally important, that of our employees.

There are dozens of surveys and reports like this one from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans that underscore the growing mental health problem among workers in the US. The survey findings indicate that more than four in five organizations (88%) feel workers are more stressed now than pre-pandemic.

  • 53% suffer from depression
  • 48% suffer from anxiety disorders
  • 32% are sleep deprived
  • 22% are addicted to alcohol
  • 20% suffer from ADHD
  • 19% are addicted to prescription drugs
  • 18% suffer from PTSD
  • 17% are addicted to non-prescription drugs

When it comes to barriers preventing employees from reaching out to deal with their mental health issues, 36% fear it will impact job security, 35% are concerned with confidentiality and 29% are not yet ready to take the first step in addressing their issues, which is the toughest. Coming from Israel, I was stunned to find the US healthcare system in such disarray. It accounts for 20% of the GDP yet is one of the worst healthcare systems among high-income earning countries. Lifespans are falling for the first time in nearly one hundred years, and there’s an unprecedented opioid crisis. I believe that the reason for these problems is the separation between healthcare providers and healthcare insurance companies. This separation creates a misalignment of interests between all parties. Many healthcare providers are more focused on the bottom line—defaulting to the most expensive solution—while insurance premiums are at their highest.

It should come as no surprise that more employees now consider comprehensive healthcare coverage and benefits as a deal maker or breaker, which is why more employers are taking health seriously. A 2022 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) finds that healthcare-related benefits are the number one priority for 88% of employers surveyed. Further, mental health coverage in 2022 hit a new high of 91% in 2022 since the COVID-19 pandemic, with benefits such as telemedicine or telehealth increasing.

Particularly for employees facing mental health issues, telehealth may offer a silver lining. Visits can be done online where and when the patient feels most comfortable without worrying about confidentiality issues. Typically, it begins with an initial online questionnaire as part of an overall mental health assessment, which gets passed along to a board-certified doctor. Then, in as little as 24 hours, the video call takes place, with the doctor providing a diagnosis and treatment plan. If necessary, the doctor can prescribe and guide the patient’s medication treatment. There are a wide range of telehealth providers that offer counseling and treatment, as well as ongoing support for the following most common issues:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD Depression)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder (including Panic Attacks)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Insomnia Disorder

For many years, there was no way to measure the progress of a patient’s mental health journey. But today, through Enhanced Evidence-Based Care (EEBC), things are changing. By answering a set of scientifically validated questionnaires both before the first appointment and throughout the treatment process, doctors can measure progress and provide the best treatment possible. Clinical research has repeatedly found the EEBC method to be up to twice as effective as usual care. The most progressive board-certified mental health doctor uses this EEBC method.

Employers who put mental health first understand the overall benefits to physical health. Mental stress, as most of us now know, leads to hypertension, high blood pressure, weakened immune systems, digestive and reproductive problems, and an increased risk for heart attack. In the last two years, the rate of heart attacks has skyrocketed, particularly in the under 40 age group. In fact, in the US someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds.

Too often, we put our mental health at the bottom of a long list. As leaders, however, it is important to lead by example. Organizations that are healthy fair far better in times of market uncertainty. It’s just common sense. The mental and physical health of company leaders, as well as employees, is key to the stability of the organization. Teams function better and perform better when there is a sense of well-being. And this impacts other aspects of life—from financial to social to family—outside of work. For companies that have yet to incorporate mental health benefits, there are platforms that are affordable and easily accessible, even without insurance. So, it’s well worth alerting them to these options. There is no price one can place on health—both mental and physical. And there is no time like the present to commit to positive change.


Written by Avihai Sodri.
Have you read?
Best CEOs In The World, 2022.
Global Passport Ranking, 2022.
International Financial Centers Ranking, 2022.
World’s Richest People (Top Billionaires, 2022).
Economy Rankings: Largest countries by GDP, 2022.
Countries and territories with the largest population, 2022.
Top Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programs, 2022.

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Avihai Sodri
Avihai Sodri, is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Antidote Health, with an excellent desire for challenges, especially those that are notoriously known as complicated to figure out.


Avihai Sodri is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.