Making the Case for Innovative Practices in Workplace Mental Health
By Darcy Gruttadaro, JD
Center for Workplace Mental Health
Employers are focusing greater attention and resources on the mental health and well-being of employees. This is evident from a 2017 Willis Towers Watson national survey in which hundreds of employers identified mental health as a high priority.1
The American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Roundtable also established mental health as a high priority in its January 2019 report, Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis.2 The AHA CEO Roundtable is a leadership collaborative of 40-plus members representing more than 10 million employees and their families. The AHA report documents growing concern with employee mental health and outlines strategies for action. Workplace mental health also landed on the agenda of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.3
This stepped-up focus exists because mental health conditions are common, affecting 1 in 5 people, or 44.7 million Americans.4 Yet only half of people with these conditions receive treatment,5 and depression and anxiety, common mental health conditions seen in the workplace, are costly. The cost of depression to the U.S. economy was estimated at $210 billion annually in 2010 (the latest figure available).6 Productivity loss makes up about half of that cost, and depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.7
Mental health conditions damage the corporate bottom line by impacting performance, productivity, retention. and disability rates. These conditions also affect every level of organizations from the factory floor to the C-Suite.
Innovative Practices: Three Key Areas
Employers are using innovative approaches to address workplace mental health with initiatives falling into three broad areas:
- Raising awareness and breaking the silence
- Creating a mentally healthy climate and culture
- Improving access to mental health services and supports
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