Mental illness is a quiet epidemic — and it’s affecting America’s workplaces.
Untreated mental illnesses cost the U.S. at least $105 billion in lost productivity annually, according research by Harvard University Medical School.
This is the result of 35 million lost workdays every year, according to a different study by Mercer. And that’s largely because 60 percent of Americans with a mental health disorder remain untreated.
The Scientific American points out that one in 17 adults has a serious mental illness and “nearly one in two people in the U.S. will suffer from depression, anxiety disorders or another mental health ailment at some point in their life.”
This all means that, statistically speaking, you are probably working alongside someone who is struggling with a metal illness. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness, which is why so many conditions go untreated.
Cornell University professor Phyllis Gabriel told the WSJ that “the burden of mental disorders on health and productivity throughout the world has long been profoundly underestimated … Mental health problems strongly influence employee performance, rates of illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover.”
The only way we’ll begin solving this problem is if employers start addressing it openly in the workplace — by offering treatment hotlines or more generous leave packages. But that’s not an easy task.
Businesses can be expanded to champion all aspects of employee health; in other words, understanding and responding to the interconnectivity of physical and mental health conditions leads to increased productivity, creativity, and wellness within your workplace.