Medications can’t help you if you don’t take them.
This year’s World Mental Health Day is focussed on mental health in the workplace, a topic that is vitally important to the human and financial well-being of the nation. In 2016, 44.7 million adults lived with a mental health condition. That’s over 18% of the population. Yet nearly 60% of people with such a condition do not receive treatment, and changing workplace attitudes can go a long way in righting that wrong.
The economic impact
It’s difficult to overstate the impact mental health has on the economy. The direct cost of treatment is around $201 billion annually. The cost of lost earnings is estimated to be $193 billion. The cost of reduced productivity is believed to be over $150 billion. We’re talking about huge sums of money, much of which can be saved through simple changes. Many of those changes can be made in the workplace.
Why does this happen?
Many people living with a mental health condition ask themselves a straightforward question: should I tell my boss? While the question is straightforward, answering it can be less so. Common concerns are: how such disclosure might impact career aspirations, how colleagues will react, and whether employers will make the necessary accommodations to their working environment. As a result, many feel unable to do so, and continue work without being able to properly address the condition.
This is called presenteeism, and the result is employees being physically present, but mentally ill-equipped to work. It’s estimated to cost 57.5 days per year, per employee, making it far costlier than absenteeism. It is also a contributing factor to so many people going untreated.
Tackling the problem
Much of the onus is on companies to solve this issue. Those that proactively take measures to help employees address mental health issues save around 10 of the working days lost to reduced productivity. They also have a happier, healthier workforce, consisting of people who are better informed and aware of mental health conditions.
It is why World Mental Health Day is focussing on the workplace, and the sooner more companies take action, the sooner employee welfare will improve across the country.
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