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. A lack of stamina and difficulty handling time pressures or multiple tasks. Trouble handling negative feedback or responding to change. 

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. They’re more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. They’re more likely to be victims of serious violent crime, making them more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet they’re less likely to seek treatment, less likely to have access to treatment, more likely to receive poor quality of care, and more likely to end treatment early. Approximately 86% of psychologists are white, and less than 2% of American Psychological Association members are black. Many people experience racism from the mental health professionals they go to for help.

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. After four months of treatment, more than 75 percent no longer experienced any work-related impairment. Studies have found that when depression is treated, companies reduce job-related accidents, sick days, and employee turnover, and improve attendance and employee productivity. Many evidence-based treatments have an ROI of $2 to $4 for every dollar invested in prevention and early intervention.

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

What’s in the guide:

  • 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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