The Importance of Mental Health Programs in the Workplace

The phrase “workplace wellness” usually implies a program in place at an office to improve the physical health of employees: helping them lose weight, stop smoking, improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels and exercise more. But while all of those goals are important, that alone isn’t enough. It’s also necessary for employees to have access to mental health programs.

By ignoring the mental health of their employees, an employer can suffer serious financial setbacks. According to the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, mental illness and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability.

Narrow it down to depression and you can see how one area of mental health can have a huge impact on the productivity in an office. In a given year, 9.5 percent of the adult population will suffer from some form of depression. And those who have depression miss an average of 4.8 days from work in a three-month period. That causes 200 million lost workdays a year, costing companies between $17 and $44 billion. And that’s just depression. Add in bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and acute stress disorder and you can see just how important of an issue this is.

That’s why it’s so important for companies to make sure there are mental health programs in place for employees. First and foremost, make sure employees understand what mental health benefits are included in their health insurance plans. By adding it to the new-hire orientation, employees will instantly feel that mental health issues are treated the same way that physical health issues are and that there’s no stigma for seeking help for one.

It’s also important to make employees feel there’s a process for bringing up stress- or anxiety-causing issues at work and to encourage employees to use all vacation and personal days allocated to them. If employees feel that their bosses are on their side and will do whatever they can do reduce office-related stress and burnout, it goes a long way.

For other ways to make the office a healthier and happier place, check out these blogs:



Photo credit: Keirsten Marie

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