Why Employers Should Focus on Mental Health

Why Employers Should Focus on Mental Health

When you think of wellness in the workplace, what comes to mind? If you didn’t think of mental health right away, you’re not alone. However, when it comes to overall wellness, mental health—which includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being—is just as important as physical health.

Mental health should be a top priority for employers because mental illness is very common among people of all ages. Over 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. Additionally, 1 in 25 Americans have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, like bipolar disorder or major depression. Mental illnesses may have serious and long-lasting effects and can also be very costly to the people living with the disorder, their families, and their employers.

1 in 25 Americans have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Mental health is a significant issue on its own, but mental health disorders also have a significant impact on physical health. Mental illness increases the risk of many physical health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. In fact, nearly 72% of individuals with diagnosed depression are overweight or obese, placing them at high risk for chronic physical health conditions. Likewise, many chronic health conditions may increase the risk of mental illness or worsen the symptoms of existing conditions.

High levels of stress are often linked to worsening mental well-being and, like mental illness, excess stress at work can lead to physical health conditions. There are a number of working conditions that may lead to increased stress, including the following:

  • A heavy workload with minimal breaks to rest
  • The feeling that you have no say in workplace decision making
  • Lack of support from supervisors or coworkers
  • Unpleasant or unhealthy physical work conditions (eg, noise, air pollution, ergonomic issues)

When stressful situations like these are frequent or prolonged, employees are at a higher risk of injury or disease. Stress may cause health issues, including sleep disturbances, stomach issues, and headaches. Furthermore, if left untreated, stress can also play a role in the development of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders.

Mental illness increases the risk of many physical health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

It is encouraging to know that stress levels and mental well-being are not static. It is possible for people to improve their mental wellness. Many mental health disorders can be treated, and early diagnosis may lower health-related costs and possibly prevent other chronic diseases. Employers can implement a  holistic wellness approach at the workplace by implementing programs to promote employee mental health alongside typical wellness offerings, like biometric screenings. In fact, our partner, Omada Health, recently announced new programs to help employers connect individuals with depression and anxiety to cognitive behavioral therapy.

Read the press release to learn more!

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental Health. CDC.gov. January 26, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2019. 

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Mental Health. HealthyPeople.gov. Accessed January 14, 2019. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Stress at Work. CDC.gov. Accessed January 14, 2019. 

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