Need a business case to deal with Mental Health at work?
Given that most people spend approximately 60% of their waking hours at work (Black, 2008), understanding the financial and human costs of workplace mental health can be essential to helping employers develop an action plan for improving both the bottom line and employee well-being.
Many people face mental health issues during their prime working years
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013).
- According to a 2012 study, 5.2% of Canadians will experience a mood disorder over one year, with 4.8% of Canadians experiencing any anxiety disorder over the same time frame. Among those with a mood or anxiety disorder, 22% of those individuals will report at least 2 or more disorders in the same year (Xiangfei & D’Arcy, 2012).
- A second 2012 employee survey indicated that 12.65% of the participants reported exposure to a co-worker who used or was impaired by an illicit drug during the workday (Frone, 2012). According to a recent survey assessing Canadian workers use of alcohol, increased psychological demands at work and an irregular work schedule increased workers’ use of alcohol by 69%, respectively (Saade & Marchand, 2011).
- Mild depression, which is influenced by life stressors within and outside of the workplace, is particularly common and is costly to employers given its high prevalence and high aggregate productivity loss (Allen, Hyworon, Colombi, 2010).
- The prevalence of reported depression appears to be rising. In a 2012 workplace survey of over 6600 Canadian employees, 14% reported being currently diagnosed as clinically depressed and 8% more believed they were suffering from depression, but had not been diagnosed. A further 16% reported that they experienced depression in the past (Ipsos Reid, 2012). The survey did not ask about any other mental health issue.
- Suicide is a major cause of preventable death, with 3890 suicides in Canada in 2009 (Statistics Canada, 2009).
Reasonable accommodation of mental health issues at work makes good business sense:
- The costs for providing reasonable mental health-related accommodations are often fairly low, with most costs well under $500 per person per year (U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2007).
- If individuals with mental illness are able to receive treatment early, disability leave, which costs companies $18,000 per leave, may be avoided (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012.)
Why Psychological Health and Safety Matters
Employees express concern about psychological health and safety at work:
A 2012 survey completed by Ipsos Reid, with more than 6600 working individuals, indicates that 70% of Canadian employees report some degree of concern with psychological health and safety in their workplace.
- While 14% of employees disagreed that their workplace was psychologically healthy and safe, 30% report levels of concern that warrant serious attention.
- Over 50% of employees surveyed reported experiencing frustration, exhaustion or irritation sometimes or often in the previous month. About a quarter reported experiencing anxiety, helplessness or depression.
- Over 25% report feelings that no matter what they did, it would never be enough to please their manager/employer.
- 46% believe that economic uncertainty has had a negative impact on their workplace and 22% worried about losing their job.
- 60% of managers/supervisors say dealing with conflict is one of the most stressful parts of their job (Ipsos Reid, 2012).
Advantages of promoting psychological health and safety in the workplace:
- Early, regular and sensitive contact with employees during sickness absences can be a key factor in enabling an early return to work (Black, 2008).
- Increased job stress, low job control and lower job satisfaction are associated with higher turnover. Addressing job-related stress can help retain skilled workers (Olesent, Butterworth & Rogers, 2012).