Publish Date: September 7, 2023
Author: Corinne Repcheck
Tags: Blog - SeubertU

Why Care About Mental Health in the Workplace?

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a state of well-being that allows individuals to cope with stressors in their life, thrive in their environment, and contribute to their community. Mental health reflects how you react, your work ethic and productivity, and your everyday life in terms of energy and relationships. Additionally, mental wellness is an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect, and function; it is an active process that helps us to build resilience, grow, and flourish.   

Causes of Mental Illness

Mental health issues can be brought on by a wide range of triggers – trauma, loneliness, stress, biological factors, or even chemical imbalances in the brain. It can be any combination of lifestyle factors, including work, diet, drugs, sleep, and cultural norms, that lead to the decline of an individual mentally, and you can never predict when it will occur. Reducing the stigma around poor mental health and mental illness will help protect individuals by seeking out assistance in a preventive manner before it reaches a dangerous stage.  

Mental Health in the Workplace

In the workplace, poor mental health, more specifically depression and anxiety, can lead to absenteeism, which decreases productivity for both the employee and the business. In a 2022 Gallup survey, one-fifth of U.S. workers rated their mental health as “fair” or “poor” and reported taking four times more unplanned time off due to poor mental health than their peers who self-reported good to excellent mental health. Projected over a 12-month period, workers with less stable mental health have nearly 12 days of unplanned absence compared to the 2.5 days of all other workers. Annually, this missed work is estimated to cost the economy $47.6 billion in lost productivity.  

On the physical wellness side, poor mental health can be tied to higher risks of developing chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and obesity. Depression is the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide. This can be caused by sedentary behavior, high levels of stress, poor diet, etc. Employees struggling with depression have 48% higher medical costs. Even in comparison to smoking and obesity, employees at high risk of depression had some of the highest total healthcare costs. 

Making a Positive Impact

Mental health concerns have long been a more “secret” issue for employees in the workplace. Employee safety is at risk any time an individual isn’t feeling well. Since mental health and physical wellness do impact one another, it is imperative to develop a plan that takes care of both. We know that happy, healthy, and safe employees, help organizations to have healthy bottom lines. Employers that embrace a holistic approach to wellness and ensure colleagues are supported and aware of the resources readily available to them play a pivotal role in breaking the stigma.