Black, Latinx and Asian American-Pacific Islander employees feel less comfortable engaging in mental-health conversations in the workplace than their white colleagues, according to a new survey by the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The survey, which polled more than 2,300 U.S. workers, found 48 per cent of white employees are comfortable talking to colleagues about mental health, while only 36 per cent of Latinx workers, 35 per cent of AAPI employees and 29 per cent of Black employees said they’re comfortable doing so.

AAPI (35 per cent) and Black (32 per cent) workers were more likely than their white colleagues (21 per cent) to agree that aspects of their identity can make it hard to discuss mental health at work. Half (51 per cent) of white employees said they believe people who talk openly about their mental health at work are accepted, significantly higher than Latinx (37 per cent), Black (35 per cent) and AAPI (29 per cent) workers.

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“As more companies spotlight mental health in the workplace, creating a psychologically safe work environment that enables everyone to be part of the conversation is paramount,” said Christopher Swift, chairman and chief executive officer of the Hartford, in a press release. “Employers that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, invest in employee mental health and lead with empathy will differentiate themselves in the marketplace, achieve better business outcomes and help millions of Americans enjoy healthier lives.”

While most survey respondents reported having symptoms of a mental-health condition within the last two weeks, 30 per cent said they wouldn’t turn to any workplace resource if they needed mental-health assistance. The main reasons cited for avoiding mental-health resources were privacy concerns, stigma and low awareness of employer offerings.

In addition, the survey found nearly half (48 per cent) of white employees, 40 per cent of AAPI staff, 39 per cent of Latinx employees and 33 per cent of Black workers said their company provides flexibility in work schedules to get mental-health assistance.

Read: Connecting DEI initiatives to employees’ mental well-being