Mental Health First Aid

Employer Solutions | 7 months ago

Mental Health First Aid Training and Your Workforce

Mental illness is prevalent in and costly to the workforce, and it’s time for employers to support their employees and reduce the stigma. HEALTHWORKS Mental Health First Aid Training provides employers and staff with the proper tools to identify warning signs and help employees in need get necessary support.

Did you know that one in four American adults experiences mental illness in a given year? And did you know that only 41 percent of those suffering seek help? These numbers are unsettling on a personal level, but the effects of mental illness have a profound impact on the workforce as well.

From alcoholism to depression, mental illness includes a wide range of disorders and symptoms that can affect a person’s ability to work productively. Common disorders seen in the workplace include anxiety and depression, with many sufferers experiencing both. Each year, mental illness costs employers approximately USD 80 to100 billion in indirect costs. So, what can an employer do to support mental health and well-being for their employees?

Let’s start with understanding some of the common disorders and the costs associated.

Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 18 percent of the population each year, mostly women. Despite anxiety disorders being highly treatable, only 36.9 percent of those suffering seek help. 

Symptoms of anxiety include physical and mental complaints and are often a hindrance to an employee’s job productivity. Typical symptoms include an upset stomach, headaches, sweating, difficulty speaking and insomnia. Employees suffering from an untreated anxiety disorder often have poor job performance and are more likely to be absent from the workplace. The World Health Organization recently reported that an estimated 12 billion working days will be lost to untreated depression and anxiety by the year 2030, resulting in a global cost of USD 925 billion.

The negative effects of anxiety in the workplace are compounded when an employee is also suffering from depression, which is not uncommon. In fact, nearly half of those diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with depression.

Depression

Depression affects about 6.7 percent of Americans and has become one of the costliest conditions for the U.S. economy, costing more than USD 51 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity alone. Despite the prevalence of depressive disorders, less than 20 percent of those suffering from depression seek help.

In addition to the indirect costs, depressive disorders incur USD 26 billion in direct treatment costs each year. Depression often co-occurs with other major illnesses and medical conditions including cancer, heart attacks and substance abuse.

Like those living with an anxiety disorder, employees with depression are also more likely to call in sick and use short- and long-term disability. When these employees do show up to work, they are usually more distracted and restless than their healthy peers.

What Should Employers Do?

It is important for employers to understand the symptoms and struggles of mental illness so they can support their employees, reduce the stigma and create a productive and safe workplace. When employees receive effective treatment for mental illnesses, the result is lower total medical costs and absenteeism, increased productivity and decreased disability costs.

That’s why HEALTHWORKS provides Mental Health First Aid Training. This course helps to support a mentally healthy workforce and teaches staff about risk factors and warning signs for mental illness, strategies for helping employees in need and where to turn for help. 

The interactive group training covers anxiety disorders, depression and more. The eight-hour course can be done in one day or broken into two four-day sessions.

Help keep your employees and workplace healthy. Act now to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Want to learn more? Contact Kyla Barnes, Health Promotions, at 704.631.1241, or Kyla.Barnes@AtriumHealth.org.