It is widely said that “diversity is about more than race.” But people often think about social class, generational differences, sexual orientation, etc. (Big Think, 2018; Ingram, 2021). There is, however, an aspect of diversity that remains largely unspoken about: mental health issues. 

In February 2021, 41.5% of US adults reported having symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder (Vahratian et al., 2021). This number increased from 36.4% in August 2020 and was found to be closely linked to the reported COVID-19 cases. Moreover, one in four individuals did not receive the necessary treatment despite experiencing symptoms. The increase in mental health symptoms was particularly prominent in 18- to 39-year-olds.

If almost 50% of the working population in the US is fighting a daily mental health battle, why is there still a stigma attached to discussing what is going on inside our heads? Many organizations have now begun talking about diversity in terms of race, culture, and gender, but diversity and inclusion is about more than that. It is about offering support to underrepresented groups or groups that face unfair stigmas (Hughes, 2021). The invisibility of mental health struggles makes lending support to affected individuals more difficult than lending it to those with physical struggles. However, this does not make them less valid or the people less in need of support from their employer.

Harvard Business School recently created a discussion panel with five mental health practitioners to discuss the stigma attached to mental health issues and how organizations can include mental health in their diversity and inclusion agenda (Siliezar, 2019). One of the experts mentioned the necessity of viewing mental health on the same level as physical health. The question to ask now is, “How can we integrate mental health into our organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives?”


Big Think. (2018). Why Diversity in the Workplace is More Than Race. Big Think. plus/why-diversity-in-the-workplace-is-more-than-race/

Hughes, C. (2021). Mental Health: Focused on Diversity and Inclusion. ASHHRA. resources_library/mental-health-focused-on-diversity-and-inclusion/

Ingram, P. (2021, January 1). The Forgotten Dimension of Diversity. Harvard Business Review. https://

Siliezar, J. (2019, August 23). Mental health as a diversity issue. Harvard Gazette. https://news.

Vahratian, A., Blumberg, S. J., Terlizzi, E. P., & Schiller, J. S. (2021). Symptoms of Anxiety or Depressive Disorder and Use of Mental Health Care Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, August 2020–February 2021. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 70. https://doi. org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7013e2

This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Perspectives (Page 10).

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