Women need more flexibility and support at work to better handle their mental health, new research finds. (Credit: Mart Production, Pexels)

Women in the workplace are still struggling with their mental health – and employers could be doing more to help them.

In its 2023 Women @ Work study, professional services giant Deloitte revealed that working women are feeling less comfortable discussing mental health struggles at work, and less supported by employers in this area than they have been in the past.

Women’s comfort around sharing mental-health difficulties in particular has decreased sharply, researchers found – from 43% of surveyed women saying they felt such comfort in 2022, to just 25% so far this year. 

And while women, in a bit of good news, reported a decrease in burnout levels from last year to this year, just over a third of the 5,000 women surveyed still rate their mental health as “poor” or “very poor.” At the same time, there was an increase in women feeling pressured to be “always on,” both professionally and personally.

The lack of in-office support is especially disheartening for female employees considering how “women continue to have a significant workload at home, with the majority of women bearing the most responsibility for household tasks,” Deloitte executives Michele Parmelee and Emma Codd wrote in the foreword of the study.

To rectify the problem, women say they need more flexibility. Asking for that, however, is a difficult prospect – a whopping 97% of survey respondents said they felt their career trajectories would be hurt if they asked for accommodations. And 95% feel requests for adjusted workloads would go unaddressed by the companies they work for. 

Which is why lots of women are leaving their jobs – or at least considering a change, the study showed. “[D]espite some improvements over the past year, many women are still not getting what they want or need from their employers,” Parmelee and Codd wrote. 

The duo added: “They are clear on what will make a difference in helping them thrive at work — and it’s equally clear what actions they will take if they don’t receive this.”