Employers Who Invest in Mental Health See 4 Times the Return — What Other Benefits Does It Provide?

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

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Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, according to a Sept. 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet. The organization estimates 280 million worldwide suffer from the debilitating condition. Having a poor mental health record and policy imposes a tremendous cost on business — and an unfair and unhealthy burden on employees.

As Fortune reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that employee depression accounts for 200 million lost workdays each year and costs employers $17 billion to $44 billion. Depression and anxiety disorders costs approximately $1 trillion USD in lost productivity globally, per the WHO.

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

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Although employees with mental health conditions still experience discrimination and stigma at work, businesses are increasingly flipping the workplace script — from avoidance to acceptance — and are working to deepen the value they afford to workers’ mental health.

  • In its Aug. 2022 Pulse Survey of 722 U.S. executives, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that over 60% of company execs responded that their companies have already implemented, or will develop, mental health workplace policy programs. A further 21% said they are considering adopting a mental health plan, while only 11% responded that they have no plans to introduce mental health guidelines or strategies.
  • Although the pandemic brought on an increase in employee stress and anxiety (66% of Americans have experienced some anxiety- or depression-related symptoms over the past six months, according to a recent Fortune/Harris Poll survey), it has also freed up honest communication pathways between employees and management.
  • A May study by the Fisher Phillips law firm found that almost 60% of the 560 businesses surveyed said that open discussion of mental health and well-being in the workplace is currently encouraged and being practiced in their companies, per Fortune.

In addition to productivity and cost savings, investing in workplace mental health programs can attract strong talent to an organization and boost employee engagement between coworkers and their colleagues and jobs.

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Additionally, such programs are a key to retaining workers. Per PwC’s 2022 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, more than 25% of employees who changed jobs last year did so for “nonmonetary workplace benefits, including a less stressful job and the ability to work remotely or flexibly.”

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma 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 copywriting for the retail industry.
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