Mental Illness in the WorkplaceJanuary 11, 2020
While work is generally good for mental health, a negative work environment can be detrimental to both workers and employers. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that depression and anxiety, which are two of the most common mental health problems in the U.S., cost approximately $1 trillion in lost productivity each year. Mental illnesses can also interfere with quality of work and increase the risk of work injuries. With Americans spending up to one-third of their lives working, the workplace is an ideal place to foster a supportive environment and promote mental health.
Mental Health Issues Interfere with Work
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five adults in the U.S. reported having a mental illness in 2016 and 71 percent reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress. These mental health issues can interfere with employee productivity, engagement, communication, and daily functions. Mental illnesses, such as depression, are also linked to higher rates of disability and unemployment.
Also, those with mental health disorders often have accompanying physical health conditions, such as heart disease and respiratory illnesses. According to a three-year study published in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine, employees with a high risk of depression had the highest health care costs.
Importance of a Healthy Work Environment
Risk factors for mental health may be present in the workplace. Worker dissatisfaction and work stress can lead to burnout, causing employees to miss work or resign from their jobs. Since most Americans work more than 40 hours per week, employers are in a unique position to promote mental health. Risks that may be present often pertain to:
- Workload: Those with a heavy workload are at a greater risk for stress-related illnesses.
- Support: When employees lack support in the workplace, the risk of mental disorders, including the harmful use of alcohol or psychoactive drugs, is increased.
- Culture/Policy: Supervisors and those in management roles should lead by example and attempt to establish a culture that supports mental health.
- Control: Those who have little to no control over decision-making, one’s work area, or hours of work are at an increased risk of developing mental health issues.
Steps employers can take to promote mental health and stress management include:
- Incentive programs
- Mental health self-assessment tools
- Free or subsidized clinical screenings, coaching, or self-management programs
- Providing health insurance that covers mental health counseling and medications
- Educating employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health by distributing flyers, hosting seminars, or designating a time for employees to participate in discussions pertaining to job stress and mental health
- Tracking effects and progress of workplace health promotion programs
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Workers with Mental Illnesses Receive the Benefits They Deserve
Those who are suffering from work-related mental illnesses may be entitled to various types of benefits. If you need an attorney to represent you in your mental illness claim, contact a Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. For a free consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at 844-556-4LAW (4529). Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.