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Top Reasons to Incorporate Mental Health into Your Workplace Wellness Program

With one-in-five adults experiencing a mental health condition each year, it is more than likely someone in your workplace is affected. But do they have adequate resources to seek treatment? Understand why prioritizing an employee’s mental health impacts all aspects of the workplace with these statistics.

February 28, 2022

Workplace wellness programs have become almost ubiquitous over the past several years. Employers are taking proactive steps to help create a healthier workforce, thereby reducing workers’ compensation and other insurance costs. Traditionally, these programs have addressed the physical health of employees, often including assistance with smoking cessation or nutritional guidance. In recent years, however, many employers have begun incorporating mental health components into their programs. Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked and will trickle into workplace health and workers’ compensation claims.

“Fear and stigma continue to be a driving force associated with the lack of mental health treatment for employees,” said Mark Walls, Vice President of Client Engagement at Safety National. “Employers can help to overcome this by emphasizing the importance of mental health care though EAPs, telehealth partners, or peer groups. The important thing is to emphasize that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.”

If your organization is still hesitant to invest in a wellbeing program, these alarming statistics can help drive the conversation.

  • Mental illness is one of the top three reasons for employee absences and causes over $210.5 billion in lost work productivity each year. Employee distraction caused by anxiety or another mental illness can lead to an increased chance of workplace injury in addition to lost productivity.
  • People with depression have a two-and-a-half times greater chance of suffering an injury at work. In addition, mental illness can lead to substance abuse issues, which can be exacerbated during recovery from an injury.
  • Depression is the leading cause of workplace absenteeism. Over 50% of adults suffering from a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults in the U.S. Addressing this issue proactively could save employers time and money in the long term.
  • Workers say that stress and anxiety affect their work productivity and coworker relationships more than any other factor. Resilience training has been included recently in some workplace EAPs. This type of training helps employees improve their ability to manage and adapt to stress and life challenges, making them better prepared to deal with an injury if one occurs.
  • Companies with highly-effective wellbeing programs can see reduced healthcare costs of more than $1,400 per employee. Mental illness is an often-overlooked comorbidity and can drastically increase medical costs when an employee sustains a workplace injury. Taking proactive steps to address comorbidities is one way to reduce healthcare costs.

While mental health has not always been included in workplace wellness programs, we are seeing a shift from “wellness” to “wellbeing,” which includes mental and behavioral health. In a recent study, 90% of the employers surveyed are increasing their investment in mental health programs, 76% are investing in stress management and resilience programs and 71% are investing in mindfulness and meditation programs. The theme of World Mental Health Day in 2022 is “Mental Health in an Unequal World,” and we expect to see more emphasis on this topic in years to come.

Statistics compiled from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).