Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to contribute to his or her own community. Mental health is the foundation for well-being and effective functioning for an individual and community (Healthiest WI 2020). Addressing mental health and physical health as interlinked, and is key to overall health and wellness. Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions are routinely listed as top concerns in employee health surveys.
Mental health conditions are the second leading cause of worksite absenteeism. Estimated costs for untreated and mistreated mental illness total approximately $150 billion in lost productivity each year in the U.S. and businesses pay up to $44 billion of this bill. Additionally there are indirect costs to employers such as absenteeism, work impairment, and disability benefits. However, the total health care costs for workers who receive treatment for depression are two-thirds less than the medical costs of untreated individuals (JOEM, 2005). Effective treatment potentially can save direct and indirect costs for employers and can improve quality of life for all employees.
More than 90 percent of employees agree that their mental and personal problems spill over into their professional lives, and have a direct impact on their job performance. Even moderate levels of depressive or anxiety symptoms can affect work performance and productivity. It is in the employer’s best interest to address mental health as part of a worksite wellness program.
A positive work environment decreases stress, improves overall health, and boosts productivity (NMHA 2006). Most mental illnesses are highly treatable at 70-90 percent; however, untreated mental illness can increase the risk for possible suicide. Employers can do more to promote integrated mental and physical health care by creating supportive workplaces that destigmatize mental illness, encourage self-screening, and connect employees to resources. These successful businesses will not only generate cost savings seen in improved employee engagement and well-being, results will be shown in higher product quality, better cost control, greater employee loyalty, and healthier workplaces.
Furthermore, mental health issues have a significant impact on the workplace. The following data outlines the scope of the issue: