Recent studies conducted by the federal government of the United States reveal that anxiety has reached its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, while the rate of depression has tripled. With over $51 billion in absenteeism and productivity loss, depression has become one of the nation’s most expensive disorders. Additionally, more than $26 billion are spent in direct treatment costs every year.
When mental health disorders are not treated, they can raise disability and unemployment rates. An exhausted worker is a potential resignation. Investing additional time and money to find, incorporate, and train a new employee is more costly than taking care of your current employees’ mental health.
Normalize conversations about mental health
Not all employees who experience depression seek treatment. Those who report experiencing moderate depression receive help 57% of the time. Those who report experiencing severe depression are even less likely to seek help; they seek professional help only 40% of the time. In fact, the CDC says that “employees at high risk of depression had the highest health care costs during the 3 years after an initial health risk assessment.”
Why is there such a discrepancy between the number of employees with mental health disorders and the number that seek medical or psychiatric help? There is still such a strong stigma around having a psychiatric disorder that employees may be reluctant to seek treatment. They fear that their jobs may be threatened, so they avoid treatment.
This shows the need for both employees and employers to change their attitude about mental disorders in order to address the importance of mental health in the workplace. It is also imperative to understand that treatment is not always a quick fix, so employees must feel that they can take the time they need to treat their mental health disorders.
What employers can do to support mental health
- Mental health days
Many companies have incorporated mental health days as a fringe benefit for employees to use when they feel overwhelmed or need to relax.
- Helpful team management efforts
Awareness must be raised so employees in the workplace can recognize when a coworker is in a mental health crisis. This is a crucial step for supporting mental health, especially since it highlights the need for managers to receive training on this issue as well.
Managers should have access to training that provides them with the skill sets to support coworkers with mental health disorders, both for the wellbeing of the persons in need of help as well as that of everyone in the workplace.
- Provide employees with the necessary tools
Employers can suggest the use of many mental health apps for their employees to support habits like meditation and breathing exercises, as well as tips for better sleep and improving concentration and creativity.
- Clarify mental health policies
Let employees know that their mental health is important to the company and that addressing mental health disorders is recommended at all levels of employment. Make sure the health plans offered to all employees include adequate mental health coverage.
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