May is Mental Health Month, and a time to reflect on the impact that mental disorders has on the workplace.
- About 18% of the U.S. population experiences some type of mental illness.
- The indirect cost of untreated mental illnesses in the U.S. is $100 billion.
- More days of work are lost to mental illnesses than to physical illnesses.
What can employers do?
Because of the statistical likelihood that you’ll have workers with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or other mental illness, it’s advisable to recognize the challenge and rise up to meet it.
- Eliminate the stigma. Employees suffering from a mental illness may be reluctant to share this information because of the perceived stigma. Companies can work to combat this notion and treat all health conditions equally.
- Provide outreach. Owners and co-workers don’t have to be doctors to recognize when someone is having a problem. The person just isn’t acting like him/herself, the work isn’t up to par, and sick days are being used up. Understanding that the person is having a problem and encouragement for the person to seek help is doable in a company no matter how small.
- Get training. Likely you have employees trained in CPR, but what about first aid for mental health? Take a Mental Health First Aid course to learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
If you want to learn more, check out the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health. Here you’ll find publications, surveys, and employer case examples illustrating successful employer practices.
Join the conversation on Twitter at #mentalillnessfeelslike.