Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes World Mental Health Day, highlighting the importance of maintaining mental as well as physical health. Unfortunately, the subject carries a stigma in many societies, and as
workplace mental health statistics show, that's especially true of professional settings. While people may talk about their struggles with mental health more openly these days, the workplace is seen as an environment where employees are meant to maintain a facade of hard-working, focused perfection. Even when workers disclose mental health problems, getting help from employers proves difficult all too often.
That's why this year, the theme of World Mental Health Day in 2017 is "mental health in the workplace." As the WHO explains on its website, people spend much of their time at work every week, and as a result, "
our experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining our overall wellbeing." To put it simply, problems at work can follow you home, and problems at home can follow you to work.
As you'll see from the following statistics, neglecting these problems has real consequences for millions of workers. Read on to see why this year's World Mental Health Day theme is so important.
1 One in Four Americans Say Work Is A Source Of Anxiety
Earlier this year, survey management company Ipsis
published the results of a poll about American mental health, reporting that more than two thirds of respondents had experienced some kind of mental health problem in the past year. While personal problems were the most common stressor, 28 percent, or about one in four Americans, named their places of work as a source of anxiety. "In fact, roughly a quarter say that they feel more stressed (24%) in the workplace this year compared to last year," researchers reported. 2 Depression Cuts Productivity
In a 2011 study, researchers
looked at the relationship between depression and workplace productivity. Participants completed a survey called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ9), which measures depression; the higher the score, the more depressed the person is.
According to the study's results, severity of depression is directly linked to a loss of productivity. After adjusting for outside factors, researchers found that with every one point increase in the PHQ-9 score, workers lost productivity by nearly two percent. Although they were physically present at work, depression kept them from fully functioning — a phenomenon called
presenteeism. 3 Half Of Employees With Anxiety Say It Interferes With Coworker Relationships
In a survey by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), nearly
50 percent of respondents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder said it interfered with their relationships with coworkers, whether it caused them to avoid social situations or stay quiet in meetings. More than half also said work triggered symptoms of their disorder. 4 Only One In Four Employees With Anxiety Tell Employers
same survey, ADAA researchers found that only one in four employees disclosed their anxiety disorder to their employer. Most of the reasons could be traced back to the stigma around mental disorders: 38 percent said they were worried their bosses would think it was an excuse to get out of work, while 34 percent said they thought it would negatively influence promotion opportunities. 5 Depression Costs Employers More Than Other Health Conditions
In a 2009 study looking at the
financial impact of employee health problems at 10 different companies, researchers tallied up the cost of medical, drug, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Depression was the most expensive condition, followed by obesity, arthritis, back or neck pain, and anxiety. That's two mental health problems in a list of the most costly health conditions. 6 3.5 Percent Of Workers Have ADHD
A 2008 paper
screened thousands of workers in 10 countries for symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition associated with attention problems. Researchers discovered that 3.5 percent of workers showed symptoms of the disorder, but only a "small minority" ever received treatment for ADHD. On top of being less likely to graduate from high school or college, people with ADHD also make 20 to 40 percent less money than coworkers without the disorder, even when controlling for academic achievements. 7 Depressed Employees Lose 27 Work Days Per Year
According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter,
researchers analyzing a 2006 WHO mental health questionnaire found that depression costs not only money, but time. Employees with depression reported the equivalent of 27 missed work days per year. Of these days, 18 were the result of lower productivity, and nine were sick or personal days. 8 Four In Five Workers Report Poor Work-Life Balance
importance of work-life balance is widely acknowledged, especially now that technology has made disconnecting from the workplace is increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, a 2006 report found that only 29 percent of employers say their company offers work-life balance, and the number of employees who agree is even lower — just one in five. Furthermore, the same report found that 52 percent of workers say their company does not do enough to promote employee health. 9 80 Percent Of Treated Employees Report Improvements
Finally, treatment works. According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health,
80 percent of employees treated for mental health problems report improvements in their job satisfaction and productivity. Not only does this benefit the worker, but it also helps out the company.
World Mental Health Day may shine a spotlight on an important issue, but it's only one day out of 365. Employers must take steps to address mental health in the workplace all year long, and in the end, everyone will benefit.