In recent years, many companies have shown an increased focus on employee health and wellness. But while corporate health and wellness programs typically address various aspects of physical health, such as nutrition and exercise, strategies for addressing mental health in the workplace have lagged behind.
Because mental health is an important component of total health, employee wellness experts recommend better integration into a comprehensive health and wellness program.
Mental health issues are a hidden epidemic among American workers. 5 of the 10 leading causes of disability are mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and alcoholism. It is estimated that spending in the United States on depression alone accounts for more than $40 billion dollars, and the disorder is also responsible for 220 million sick days annually. Taken as a group, mental health issues result in an estimated $105 billion dollars per year in lost productivity.
Mental health can even be a concern for those employees who don’t suffer from a formal mental health disorder. Especially in environments where tight deadlines and low work-life balance are the norm, workplace stress can result in a host of complications, including anxiety, insomnia, and physical health complaints. Employers must also consider that factors outside of the workplace, such as family or financial stressors, can contribute to poor employee mental health.
For employers, the negative effects of mental health issues are numerous. Poor employee mental health results in increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, poor decision-making, loss of motivation, burnout, decreased retention, and increased spending on healthcare and disability.
But research suggests that the negative impact of poor employee mental health can be mitigated when these issues are addressed early on. Therefore, mental health care is an important component of any onsite wellness program strategy.
Because the average employee spends the majority of his or her day at work, healthcare staff at onsite clinics are often in the best position to address these concerns. Clinic staff can screen workers for symptoms of common mental health disorders, and make treatment recommendations or referrals. Onsite clinics also typically allot more time for office visits, during which providers can encourage open conversation. And with easier proximity for drop-in visits, onsite clinicians may be able to address mental health concerns when an employee is ready to talk.
But offering onsite mental health services is not enough. To truly address employee mental health, organizations must change their culture surrounding this issue. Employees report that workplace stigma is one of the biggest barriers to seeking appropriate treatment for mental health issues. Worried about what might happen if their colleagues or managers find out, employees with mental health disorders may unnecessarily suffer in silence.
Opening up a company-wide dialogue about mental health, training managers to recognize symptoms of mental health issues, and adopting policies that promote mental health care can go a long way toward reducing stigma and empowering employees who need mental health treatment to seek out services in a more timely manner.
There is a growing emphasis on mental health in the workplace. Addressing these concerns is vital to building maximum employee satisfaction and productivity.
Onsite clinics and corporate health and wellness programs are essential tools for ensuring that your employees achieve and maintain good mental health. The clinics can also act as a referral hub, directing employees to the range of appropriate resources offered by your company. By understanding the full scope of the patient’s health, and frequently talking with employees, clinicians are in a better position catch signs of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues early on. Healthstat also offers a universal screening for depression through the patient’s annual health assessment, which is an important tool to uncover and fight depression.
Learn how you can implement an onsite clinic at your company.