Mental Health in the Workplace

Oct 24

Today, we are more than ever focused on the freedom of expressing our feelings, reflecting on them, working with our insecurities, and better understanding our mental health. Companies are also seeking to create a welcoming environment for their employees and nurture mental health in the workplace. 

Are they succeeding?

Mental health impact

1 in 6.8 people in the UK experiences mental health problems at work, whereas it’s even more common in the US, as 1 in 5 Americans struggles with their mental health at work. The environment and conditions are key components that influence an employee’s mental health, which also affects their work performance. 

So, what are the most common indicators that an employee experiences mental health problems at work?

Impact on work quality and productivity

In the 2019 study of 257 people, the participants mentioned that their overall productivity was influenced by their mental health status, and it affected their work quality and the speed of work or service. The study showed that:

Staying productive, ensuring work quality, as well as staying professional at your job while dealing with mental health problems seems to be strongly connected with the right coping techniques, such as taking time off, counseling, participating in sports, and doing yoga or breathing exercises. 

The studies also show that clear and open communication with management and asking for workplace adaptations had a positive impact on work performance. 

Both employers and their employees dealing with mental problems must take action to maintain the productivity and job quality balance. It seems that focusing on positive mental health coping techniques and being open about your symptoms and condition helps in solving mental issues at work. 

Impact on sick days

One of the important features of the labor market imposing high costs is absenteeism. Based on a 2021 study, employees with chronic pain problems are more likely to be absent from work. 

In addition, the study reveals that mental health has a significantly larger effect on sick days than physical health. In fact, a change in mental health has a more than three times greater effect on absenteeism than a change in physical health. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, absenteeism reduces productivity. The medical expenses related to ongoing and unresolved depression total $210.5 billion annually in the US only. 

Each year, depression alone costs employers $31–51 billion because of lost productivity. The World Economic Forum estimates that mental health problems will cost over $6 trillion by 2030. People with depression miss 27 more work days per year than their colleagues without mental health issues. The per capita cost of depression-related absenteeism in the United States is $4,426.59.

Based on the JAMA Network Open study, a comprehensive, employer-sponsored online mental health benefits program results in 25% fewer missed work days and a 24% increase in productivity. 

Increasing quit rates

In 2021, more than 47M American workers quit their jobs. 50% of the employees claimed to have left for their mental health. Providing mental health benefits at work could decrease quitting rates and improve employees’ wellness. 

In addition to overall well-being, productivity, work quality, and reduced absence, the mental health benefits improve retention for employers. According to the Spring Health study, the respondents were 1.6 times less likely to leave their job when focusing on mental well-being. 

Employees themselves express a need for mental health benefits. According to the Lyra Health survey, 92% of participants claimed that providing mental health support at work became a higher priority for them. 

Would you like to read the full report?

Taking care of employees’ mental health ensures productivity, better quality results, less absence, bypass of burnout, and reduced quitting rates. As a result, businesses save money on healthcare and other costs. 

For every dollar invested in evidence-based programs, employers can save $2–4 on other expenses. Employer-sponsored behavioral health programs do actually help move the needle in a positive direction. 

Would you like to learn more about mental health in the workplace?

Agne Belopetrovic

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