Is it time to revamp your employee mental health strategy?

Organizations instinctively understand that personal health plays a major role in morale, productivity, and cost.  As a result, many employers provide wellness programs that enhance both the physical and mental well-being of their employees.  Unfortunately, studies show that many are still uncomfortable seeking help for mental health.      

Stigma of mental health in the workplace 

The APA (American Psychiatric Association) recently released some key findings concerning workplace mental health:  

  • Only about 38% of US adults know how to access mental care benefits through work
  • Only 28% of US adults say they feel comfortable using mental health services through work
  • Only about 1 in 5 US adults feel they can discuss mental health openly and honestly with co-workers or supervisors
  • More than one-third of US adults are worried about job consequences if they seek mental health care

Why mental health matters  

Mental health concerns are increasing with each passing year, and the statistics are daunting:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older reported having a mental illness
  • Mental health and substance abuse costs US businesses between $80 and $100 billion annually, and serious mental illness costs up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. 
  • Depression accounts for up to 400 million lost work days annually in the US alone, and costs the global economy an estimated $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.  
  • Less than half of employees who struggle with a mental illness receive treatment. 
  • Mood disorders are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the US for individuals aged 18-44
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 10-34.  
  • More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health condition
  • Global rates of depression and anxiety have risen at a rate of 15-20% over the last decade 

What employers can do

  • Raise Awareness:  promote the understanding of mental health and stress management by adopting educational programs
  • Reduce stigma surrounding mental health:  make information about mental health more visible in the workplace
  • Serve as dedicated wellness champions and promote open discussions
  • Share personal experiences when appropriate
  • Be open-minded and respond with empathy and understanding
  • Provide and promote support services and staff members trained in mental health

Benefits of investing in a robust mental health strategy

  • Mentally healthy employees take fewer sick days and require fewer medical costs
  • Increased productivity, employee engagement, and morale
  • Commitment to employee mental health enables ability to attract and retain strong talent
  • Surveys indicate that for every US dollar invested in depression and anxiety treatment, a $4 return is realized in both health and better ability to work
  • Happier and healthier employees

With mental health concerns on the rise, and approximately 63% of Americans in the US labor force, employers are in a unique and wonderful position to make a difference and change lives.  Take an assessment of what your organization is doing to promote mental well-being, and implement change as needed.

Joshua W. Poole

Joshua W. Poole

Joshua W. Poole began his credit union career as a part-time teller, shortly after graduating from high school in 1999.  He has a passion for leadership and change management, and ... Web: Details