Mental Health Plays Costly Role in Workplace

Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Recently, a nationally representative poll conducted for global business news website Quartz revealed that 18 percent of respondents said they experience anxiety or depression to the point where it disrupts work often or, worse yet, all the time. A 2018 article in MarketWatch explains that depression in the workplace shows up commonly as absenteeism as well as “presenteeism,” when an employee does show up to work but is not working at full capacity due to underlying mood issues.

But perhaps the statistic that’s making employers really take notice is this: The World Health Organization estimates the cost of depression and anxiety on the global economy to be $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Mental Health America (MHA), the 110-year-old community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness, puts work absenteeism and lost productivity costs for the U.S. economy at $51 billion a year plus $26 billion for direct treatment.

In response, many employers offer onsite counseling services, employee assistance programs, and encourage “mental health days” for employees to take a break from work and focus on their well-being. Some companies offer free meditation and yoga classes, and workshops on sleep, mindfulness, and exercise. Smart employers are recognizing that being accepting of mental health problems and helping their employees cope with them not only helps the individuals but the bottom line as well.

MHA offers online screening for nine common mental health conditions at The screening does not offer diagnoses, but does provide provide information, resources, and tools to discuss the results with a provider. If you feel the need to talk to someone, or if someone you know is in crisis, these are some options:

  • Call 911.
  • Go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Call (800) 273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center.
  • Text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.
  • Contact your employer’s employee assistance program.


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