People experience a variety of painful issues in their lives. From the beginning, some issues are more challenging than others, in part because of struggles with either addiction or depression. People who manage their concerns are also managing them when they step into their daily jobs. The problems people carry with them can affect their job performance and their relationships. Their compromised attention can cause additional frustrations such as mistakes and missed work. This is a significant problem businesses must address and some solutions have been discussed that offer the potential for a plan of action.
One in four adults suffers from mental health disorders every year (“Statistics,” 2010). If we consider the number of people who made up the American population in 2004, this constitutes approximately 57. 7 million people. There is approximately a . 9% population growth within the United States each year (“Population growth,” 2011), and fewer people are choosing to seek mental health support than ever before (“Survey says,” 2010). The survey referenced above states that people would rather, “eat (28%), smoke (14%), shop (15%) or watch TV (36%) than see a therapist as a stress management technique.”
According to Harvard Medical School (2010), a study examined the financial weight that pertained to twenty-five different physical and mental issues by polling almost thirty five thousand workers across ten companies. The study considered the cost of health care and medication that companies faced, and the self-reports of employees via the WHO questionnaire. The most costly health conditions that impacted workers and companies include obesity, back and neck injury, and joint problems such as arthritis as some of the most costly health conditions.
Other noteworthy mental conditions on the list also include depression as the most expensive, and anxiety as the fifth. The resulting data offers a powerful argument for changes in the handling of employee health. Lost productivity and other indirect costs are believed to outweigh direct costs like health insurance. This important piece of information has prompted the idea that investment in employee mental health is not only beneficial to the worker, but the company behind him.
Substance abuse costs American taxpayers approximately 300 billion dollars a year (Gelb, B. & Corrigan, P. W. , 2008). Approximately 16. 4 million people who take drugs along with nearly 15 million people who drink a lot all have full time jobs. They have to be taken care of in the workplace. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that a little over 8% of all employees take illegal drugs and just under 9% are heavy alcohol abusers. In California, alcohol and drug treatment has a 7 to 1 return on investment.
What this means is if there are 150,000 people who need treatment, at a cost of 250 million dollars, it saves the taxpayers nearly 2 billion dollars in total costs( Founder, E. M. , 2007). Depression Mental illness is another significant problem in the workforce. It costs companies approximately 79 billion dollars each year. Sixty three billion of this is due to absenteeism. People take sick days to manage their mental health. People take more time to manage their mental health than they do with many other chronic diseases, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, depression, and anxiety (Mental health and the workplace, 2010).
In some studies, nearly ninety percent of all people who seek consistent help with their mental health issue, through talk therapy, medication or other methods, get significant relief with their problems. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that employers could save approximately 4 times the cost of treatment in gained productivity (“Mental health and the workplace, 2010). Their studies showed that after only three weeks of treatment, struggles with work went down from “31 percent to 18 percent (Mental health and the workplace, January 2010). ” Services to Employees
Training According to the Harvard Business Review, reducing the stigma associated with mental disorders and consequently drug addictions, can encourage people seek the help they need to be healthier employees and people. People who hold on to denial, who fear being “found out” and those that have inadequate insurance coverage are less likely to get the help they need and continue costing companies billions of dollars each year (Gelb, B. & Corrigan, P. W. , 2008). Coming up with a good training program or series of sessions may help people learn to accept guidance.
Counseling A group such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help people with a range of personal problems, family matters, as well as financial and legal matters (“EAP supplies,” 2010). Using a good EAP service can even help managers work with their individual employees. The training of managers is as important as the training of the employees, because the managers are the first to see the effects on productivity prior to seeing the issues to the bottom line of the business (ESI Employee Assistance Group, February 2, 2010).
It is important that we consider the breadth of the issues surrounding strong mental health in the workplace. Mental illness and addiction issues cost businesses billions of dollars each year and looking at the short term costs associated with helping employees may no longer be an option. We may not have a legal responsibility to assist our employees with training or an employee assistance program, but it is the right things to do for the people working for our company and the company’s bottom line.
- Works referenced Get a quote. (n. d. ) ESI Employee Assistance Group. Retrieved November 2010, from: http://www. theeap. com/
- Founder, E. M. (Sept. 2007) Drug and alcohol rehab costs a fraction of the cost of addiction. BNet. Retrieved on November 2010 from: http://www. marketwire. com/press-release/drug-and-alcohol-rehab-costs-a-fraction-of-the-cost-of-addiction-773206. htm
- Gelb, B. & Corrigan, P. W. (2008, July 15). How managers can lower mental illness costs by reducing stigma. Harvard Business Review. Abstract retrieved from: http://hbr. org/product/how-managers-can-lower-mental-illness-costs-by-red/an/BH282-PDF-ENG? Ntt=cost%2520of%2520mental%2520illness%2520in%2520busine
- Mental health problems in the workplace. (February, 2010). Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved on November 2010 from: http://www. health. harvard. edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2010/February/mental-health-problems-in-the-workplace
- The high costs of cutting mental health: Mental illness in the workplace. (January 2010). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved on November 2010 from: http://www. nami. org/Content/NavigationMenu/State_Advocacy/About_the_Issue/Workplace. pdf
- Statistics. (2010) National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from: http://www. nimh. nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index. shtml#
- Intro Survey says: Fewer Americans using mental health professionals to manage stress. (Nov. 9, 2010). PR News Wire. Retrieved on November 2010 from: http://www. prnewswire. com/news-releases/survey-says-fewer-americans-using-mental-health-professionals-to-manage-stress-69553742. html
- Population growth rate. (April 26, 2011) World Bank: World Development Indicators. Retrieved on November 2011 from: http://www. google. com/publicdata? ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_grow&idim=country:USA&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+growth+in+the+united+states