Mental illness is a problem in your workforce. It can seem invisible, but 1 in 5 people experience a diagnosable mental illness each year. Imagine 1 in 5 of your workers coping with mental illness, and the cost to your business is staggering.

The WHO has deemed depression a leading cause of disability; depression often occurs with other expensive chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. One study estimated that workers who meet criteria for depression without receiving treatment use 2–4x the health care resources of their coworkers.

Harder to measure are the indirect costs from absenteeism and lost productivity. More workers are absent from work due to mental health issues than physical illness or injuries. Untreated mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can also impact performance and productivity. For example, an inability to concentrate or to screen out environmental stimuli. If you have a highly diverse workforce, the picture gets worse. People who are black are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than people who are white.

The good news is that treatment works: One study found that after three weeks of mental health treatment, the number of employees suffering from a diagnosable mental illness decreased by 50 percent.

This guide will walk you through the steps you can take both to support individual employees and to strengthen your company’s culture:

  • How mental health shows up at work
  • Common signs that someone may need mental health support
  • How to talk to an employee in crisis
  • What you can to do help
  • Where to refer employees for support
  • How to make a resource referral that sticks
  • Building a supportive workplace culture
  • Understanding the role of the EAP
  • Recommended employee benefits

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