With one in five Americans living with a mental health condition, according to the study “Mental Health Facts in America” by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), employers are beginning to recognize that investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business. Depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) “Quantifying the Cost of Depression.” The APA reports that about half of employees with depression are untreated, which contributes to presenteeism (employees at work but not engaged) as well as absenteeism. Untreated mental health issues may also adversely impact multiple areas of employee performance, including focus and decision making, time management, completing physical tasks, social interactions, and communication. Like most other health conditions, early detection and effective treatment lessen the severity and impact of the condition.
Symptoms of common problems — such as depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anxiety — manifest differently at work than they do at home or in other settings.
The stigma that surrounds mental illness is considered a major barrier to seeking treatment, and that’s a problem for organizations and employees alike. Overcoming stigma at work is everyone’s responsibility — but as an employer, you have a unique opportunity to start the conversation.
Mental health conditions are common and treatable, but we don’t talk about them because of stigma — negative stereotypes about mental illness that persist both in and out of the workplace. People living with mental health conditions are frequently perceived as irresponsible, lazy, or dangerous. They may face rejection, bullying, and discrimination — because unlike physical health issues, mental health issues are often viewed as character flaws or personal weaknesses.
The truth is, many people living with mental health conditions are productive, reliable employees and leaders who live full and satisfying lives. But even in the most progressive workplaces, many employees keep their conditions secret. They may be afraid that being open about them will hurt their reputation, compromise work relationships, or even jeopardize their job. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 8 out of 10 workers with a mental health condition say shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment. That’s why it’s so important to talk about mental health at work and create a culture of acceptance.
Taking a stance against stigma shows all employees — not just those living with a mental health condition — that the organization values and cares about them as people. It also demonstrates true interest in helping employees and their families live happy and healthy lives. This can help foster employee loyalty and retention — in addition to promoting awareness and acceptance outside company walls. And that sends a positive message to consumers that can help your business thrive.
The National Mental Health Association and the National Council for Behavioral Health recommends the following actions to help create a stigma-free workplace:
In addition to employee assistance programs (EAPs) and other resources mentioned above.
Amy Richter is focused on bringing out the strengths in her clients and colleagues to live longer, healthier lives. Her ability to create well-rounded, results-oriented wellness programs is complemented by her problem-solving skills and creativity.
Amy Richter is focused on bringing out the strengths in her clients and colleagues to live longer, healthier lives. Her ability to create well-rounded, results-oriented wellness programs is complemented by her problem-solving skills and creativity. Amy has experience promoting health and wellness in both the public and private sector. Her education and experiences have provided her with unique skill sets, including wellness project management from strategic development through implementation and evaluation.
Risk management and human resources are traditionally two different job functions, and the people in these areas have rarely crossed paths — but that is changing.
Why are these people starting to work together more frequently?
Foth Companies, headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., understands the link between the company’s success and the well-being of its employees. Implementing a wellness program called “Workin’ Well” featuring health risk assessments (HRAs) is one way the company is demonstrating its commitment to employees.
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