mental health

Mental Health: The New Imperative

A mental health crisis was already well underway in the US when the COVID-19 pandemic’s upheaval swelled the numbers of individuals facing mental health issues. Because people don’t set aside those issues when they start work every day, what may seem to be a personal challenge also becomes a business challenge. Employers are realizing they must support their employees’ mental well-being.

Workers are experiencing burnout, isolation and anxiety, whether working at home or on-site, and employers have to be part of the solution.

Just as companies invest in employees’ physical health and safety, they should invest in their mental well-being. With good reason: Businesses are already feeling the impact to their bottom lines. Globally, the World Health Organization reports that the cost of productivity lost due to depression and anxiety alone can reach up to $1 trillion a year.

Let’s bring that impact closer to home. Based on the National Safety Council’s cost calculator, a manufacturing company in New Jersey with 250 employees stands to lose an estimated $284,504 annually from mental distress and illness. The company may see 149 missed workdays and 108 days skipped, which can lead to loss of productivity, poor morale, and even safety issues.

And it’s not just larger employers that can feel the pressure. For a small management business with 50 employees, mental health costs could add up to $77,820 in just one year.

What’s encouraging is how quickly employers that provide mental health support see the return on that investment. For every dollar they spend in mental health treatment, employers can average a return of $4 through:

  • Lower medical costs
  • Lower disability costs
  • Fewer missed workdays
  • Higher levels of productivity

Organizations should start by communicating that they value the mental health of their employees from the leadership on down. Then they need to demonstrate that with their actions by:

Expanding medical coverage to include mental healthcare, including telehealth

Training managers to understand mental well-being and support employees experiencing mental distress

Providing access to an employee assistance program (EAP) for referrals to mental health professionals and other services with strict confidentiality

Offering educational opportunities to destigmatize mental health and encourage self-care

Making employees aware of mental health resources and policies

Understanding employee burnout and taking steps to prevent it.

About the Author: Suzanne M. Kunis is vice president, behavioral health, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: