Employers who invest in mental health see 4x the return — what other benefits does it provide?


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No longer considered optional or desirable in many workplaces, an employer’s commitment to mental health initiatives has become an essential workforce—and, obviously, in the best interest of every company’s stakeholders.

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Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, according to a September 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet. The organization estimates that 280 million worldwide suffer from the debilitating condition. Having poor mental health and politics imposes huge costs on businesses – and an unfair and unhealthy burden on employees.

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As Fortune reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that employee depression causes 200 million lost work days each year and costs employers $17 billion to $44 billion. According to the WHO, depression and anxiety disorders cost an estimated US$1 trillion in lost productivity worldwide.

However, a positive return on investment (ROI) through workplace mental health initiatives is within every organization’s reach. According to the World Economic Forum, employers see a return on investment of $4 for every dollar spent on mental health care in the workplace, Fortune pointed out.

Although employees with mental illness still experience discrimination and stigma in the workplace, companies are increasingly turning the tide in the workplace—from avoidance to acceptance—and working to deepen the value they place on workers’ mental health.

  • In its August 2022 Pulse Survey of 722 U.S. executives, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that more than 60% of company executives responded that their companies have already implemented or will develop workplace mental health policy programs . Another 21% said they were considering adopting a mental health plan, while only 11% said they had no plans to introduce mental health guidelines or strategies.
  • While the pandemic has led to an increase in employee stress and anxiety (66% of Americans have experienced some symptoms related to anxiety or depression in the past six months, according to a recent Fortune/Harris Poll), it has also freed up honest avenues of communication between employees and management.
  • A May survey by law firm Fisher Phillips found that nearly 60 percent of 560 firms surveyed said open discussions about mental health and wellness in the workplace are currently encouraged and practiced at their companies, according to Fortune.

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In addition to productivity and cost savings, investing in workplace mental health programs can attract strong talent to the organization and increase employee engagement between colleagues and their colleagues and work.

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In addition, such programs are key to retaining workers. According to PwC’s 2022 Employee Financial Well-Being Survey, more than 25 percent of employees who changed jobs last year did so for “non-monetary workplace benefits, including less stressful work and the ability to telecommute or flexible working’.

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About the author

David Nadel is an editor and freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to switch careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a Diploma in Technical Communication and holds previous university degrees in Journalism, Sociology and Criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience writing for the retail industry.

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