Mental health refers to anything affecting our psychological, emotional, or social well-being. This includes mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, chronic stress, and responses to traumatic events or ongoing troubles. One in six Americans are facing a mental health issue at any given time, and the majority of those suffering haven’t sought appropriate treatment.
While the stigma associated with mental health has decreased over time, it’s still an obstacle keeping people from getting the treatment they need. Part of this stigma is in the workplace, where employees are more anxious or ashamed to ask for time off to treat a mental condition, as opposed to a physical illness like a stomach virus or the flu.
Whether a person is suffering from anxiety, depression, or chronic stress, their body is likely to bear the burden. If anxiety or stress is causing someone to tense up, they might carry the tension in their neck or shoulders and develop chronic pain. When untreated, individuals with a mental illness are also at risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and gastrointestinal issues, like ulcers or acid reflux.
Employees with mental health issues are less engaged and productive and have higher absenteeism and presenteeism levels than their coworkers. Those dealing with chronic stress took twice as many sick days per year and had 50% higher levels of presenteeism. Employees with depression cost employers more than $44 billion per year in lost productivity alone, with more than 80% of costs due to presenteeism. In total, employers are losing at least $193 billion annually to employees’ untreated mental health disorders.
The best solution an employer can offer is support. By starting the conversation and introducing mental health resources, the stigma is lifted and employees feel encouraged to seek necessary treatment for their mental health problems. Studies show a significant decrease in symptoms for mental illnesses after a patient starts receiving treatment. A reduction in mental health issues not only means lessened healthcare costs, it also means improved productivity.
are one of the most common mental health resources offered by organizations. EAPs connect employees with a counselor outside of their company to discuss and resolve work-related or personal issues. Employers can also offer:
Health insurance with coverage for mental health treatment
Telemedicine behavioral health counselor
Counseling hotline for emergencies
Employees feel valued by employers who provide this much-needed support, leading to an increase in morale and loyalty.
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