Mental health disorders affect roughly 18 percent of adults in the U.S. and a recent study from Harvard Medical School points to depression as the single most costly ailment for employers. Although these disorders have many adverse effects for employers, the biggest impact of untreated mental health disorders is the loss of overall productivity.
Mental health was once considered a taboo subject in the workplace with many people viewing the person as a problem instead of the condition as a problem, but silence can be both costly to the employer and detrimental to the employee. Proper treatment of mental disorders can improve an employee’s work performance and quality of life, but common barriers to treatment like stigma and cost can keep those affected from seeking treatment.
For employers, the most costly mental health disorders include:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders
In general, mental health illnesses have a variety of treatment options. Therapy and medication are the standard for mental health care, but the key to achieving optimal mental health is long-term rehabilitation. If an employee is not properly treated, or not treated at all, then the personal toll on the employee and the financial cost to the company could be affected.
With rising medical costs, along with the emotional and physical toll of these disorders, it is difficult to remain optimistic when working to improve a chronic condition. Perhaps this is why many specialists suggest that employers look at mental health rehabilitation in a different light. Mental health care should be considered an investment that is worth the time and cost to regain the productivity lost to mental health illnesses.
According to Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, people with untreated mental illness use non-psychiatric inpatient and outpatient services three times more than those who are treated. However, the high cost of mental illness can be alleviated through proper diagnosis and treatment. Appropriate mental health management in the workplace can reduce the incurred costs of these disorders and can improve the employee’s overall mental health and workplace productivity. Bottom line: When employees get the mental health treatment they need, employers benefit.