May is Mental Health Awareness Month. One in five adults (43.8 million people) will experience a mental illness in any given year. The consequences of living with a mental illness or substance use disorder affect all areas of a person’s life, including work. Serious mental illness can also impact an employer’s bottom line and costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
Unfortunately, more than half of people who need mental health treatment do not receive it. In addition to stigma, a major deterrent to treatment is a lack of understanding and support from employers. A survey by Mental Health America found that more than three-quarters of respondents are afraid of getting punished for taking a day off to attend to their mental health.
Investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business, says the Center for Workplace Mental Health. It estimates that 80% of employees treated for mental illness report improved productivity and satisfaction. Lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism, and reduced disability costs can result when employees feel it’s safe to seek the mental health care they need thanks to awareness and a supportive culture.
Creating a mental-health friendly workplace starts with understanding the issue.
Check out these resources to learn how you can foster a mental-health friendly workplace:
- The Center for Workplace Mental Health’s Making the Business Case for Mental Health
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mental Health Toolkit
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Why Care Campaign