New Way Now

Workplace Mental Health: Investing in People is a Smart Decision

By: Schatzie Brunner, Founder, New Way Now

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about workplace mental health. And it is alarming how slow awareness and education have spread between both sides—employers and employees. Especially regarding the resources available to aid and improve well-being. A healthy workforce impacts more than just a company’s bottom line. While the mental health stigma is gradually reducing, a significant societal paradigm shift is on the horizon.

In the business world, management doesn’t seem to be connecting the dots when it comes to mental health and corporate health costs. Annually in the U.S., employers experience $44 billion each year, and depression costs the U.S. economy more than $210 billion annually. This cost is staggering. Consider the cost of overtime or a staffing agency to fill the gaps when an employee is absent from work. Or what about missing the opportunity to close a big deal because a sales representative is too distracted to work efficiently. When unhealthy workforce patterns are overlooked by management or proactive programs aren’t in place by organizations, a negative cycle grows that impacts performance, productivity, retention and more.

Did you know that one in five U.S. adults experience a mental illness?

Creating a strategy for a flexible and effective Employee Assistance Program (EAP), other structured programs, or opportunities for the workplace is a smart investment. Such efforts can generate an excellent ROI for businesses and their employees.

How long can we afford to ignore the severity of workplace mental health? It continues to be the ever-present elephant in the room. I know from personal experience. I’ve lived with mental illness throughout my life. I was successful at hiding what was really going on, and fooling co-workers and colleagues, even family and friends into thinking I was happy and doing well. And trust me, there are plenty more people putting on a “happy face” as they set out for their workday. This is my point. Many of us are great actors driven by the shame of having a mental health issue, which is just as important to remedy as to a case of bronchitis or a broken bone.

Health and well-being should be the total body—from the inside out.

However, the irony is that once someone speaks up about their mental illness, it loses its power to shame. This realization shocked me after 40 years of masking my mental health issues and opening up late in life. My suppression routine contributed to many challenges throughout my professional career, as well as my personal life.

Enterprise companies like Dupont, Prudential and Deloitte all have EAPs and similar programs in place for years that are very successful at fostering a healthy workforce. These established programs have become best practices, and many of them are accessible to use by any business regardless of industry, business size or culture. Alternatively, there are numerous organizations, including the Center for Workplace Mental Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America, that offer information and tools to address mental health in the workplace and in general. So whether you are in charge of developing an employee program for your company or you or someone you know needs help—resources are available, and the time to be proactive is now.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, please take New Way Nows 10-question Depression Assessment. All information is anonymous, the results are instant, and the valuation provides you with resources in your area to seek help.

Please share our Depression Assessment. The more people who speak up openly about mental health, the more people will recognize the healing power of sharing and taking action.