The cost of mental health in the workplace

workplace_bullyingA mentally healthy workplace is good for business. Research shows it leads to less absenteeism, more-engaged workers, better productivity and morale. It reduces the chances of a company being hit with workplace disability claims and fines for breaches of health and safety laws.

There is a big price tag when employers ignore and fail to manage mental health conditions in the workplace. Price Waterhouse Coopers has estimated it costs business in Australia alone a whopping $A10.9 billion a year as reported by Leon Gettler.

Research conducted for Beyond Blue has found more than six million working days are lost per year as a result of one mental illness alone – depression – and each worker whose depression is untreated costs their employer $A9660.

The stats show people experiencing symptoms of depression can be away from work more often than those with ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, lung problems or gastrointestinal disorders.

Apart from depression, the other most common mental health issues are anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcoholism, drug use disorder and bipolar disorder.

All this inevitably spills over into the workplace.

Stress-related physical conditions such as sleeping disorders and low-resistance to infections can result in an increase in overall sickness absence. Work-related stress and poor mental health are major reasons not only for absenteeism but also for occupational disability and for workers seeking early retirement.

A recent Harvard study examining the financial impact of 25 chronic physical and mental health problems found workers with depression reported the equivalent of 27 lost work days per year. Other research has found employees with depression are more likely than others to lose and change jobs frequently.

According to Comcare, one in five people in Australia will experience some form of mental illness, like depression, at some stage of their lives. As many of us spend at least nine hours a day at work, there has to be some spill over.

That means the workplace can heavily influence the health of workers and therefore the community. Psychologically healthy workplaces are high functioning and productive zones.

Comcare says the workplace can trigger or worsen mental health conditions.

Psychologist Dean Janover says all companies need to have regular mental health audits and to develop policies to deal with the issue.

“They need to have a plan in place,’’ he says. “They need to have a look at the general health of their workforce, and [ask], what are the kinds of risks impacting on their employees’ mental health?”

“They need to develop policies around how they are going to address each of those areas. They need to educate their staff and the people who manage them. They need to put the proper support processes in place, before they pick up the danger signs.”

“If they don’t have these systems in place, they might not be as well-placed to manage these kinds of mental health issues.” To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

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