mental health workplace wellness

High Business Costs Tied to ‘Poor Mental Health’

We have reported on the challenges in managing mental health in the workplace, as well as the role that businesses — and workplace wellness programs — can play in addressing the issues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides important statistics that demonstrate the seriousness of the issue:

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.

And the business costs are not trivial. Employee Benefits News — in a piece titled “Poor mental health is costing employers billions,” reports that “because employees are not seeking treatment for these conditions, employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion each year due to stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse contributing to high turnover, burnout, exhaustion and decreased motivation.”

According to Workplace Insights, businesses and workplace wellness programs can help address these issues by:

  • “Creating a wellbeing strategy that ensures that supporting employee wellbeing remains a priority”
  • “Promoting mental health and wellbeing initiatives in the workplace”
  • “Demonstrating that wellbeing matters to senior leaders”
  • “Being approachable and providing opportunities for employees to discuss their mental health”
  • “Empowering people to be able to take time off to attend medical appointments or treatment; and”
  • “Making adjustments to the working environment and working hours of someone coping with mental health challenges”

Tomorrow we’ll address how employers might engage employees and encourage them to seek assistance.