What does mental health have to do with the world economy? A lot. And it was a hot topic in Davos this past week.
At the World Economic Forum, experts shared new data that reveals that poor mental health is responsible for $2.5 trillion in lost productivity. Astonishingly, that number is projected to increase more than 100 percent by 2030 to $6 trillion.
And the impact gets worse. As recently reported in the Psychiatric Times “A new ‘Lancet Commission’ report on mental health said that mental disorders are on the rise in every country in the world and will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. The economic cost is primarily due to early onset of mental illness and lost productivity, with an estimated 12 billion working days lost due to mental illness every year.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, “Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.”
As a clinical psychologist, I have witnessed the cost of mental health, and it is far greater than financial alone. For example, people with depression are at an increased risk of physical illness, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Mental illness can contribute to divorce, substance abuse, suicide, motor vehicle accidents…. The list is endless.
Last week, the World Economic Forum met in Davos, and mental health was a hot topic.
My response? “It’s about time!”
Whether we get people’s attention to address mental health because of the cost in the workplace or as a result of the devastation of losing a loved one to suicide, it is PAST time we talked about the increasingly growing phenomenon of struggles with mental health.
And, while it is important to truly grasp the staggering cost of mental health problems, it is vital that we then look at how we can address these issues.
What does this mean for the workplace?
- Mental illness is not uncommon: Approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness during any given year. That equates to 43.8 million or 18.5 percent of the population.
- Mental health exists on a continuum: Some people feel sad; others meet the criteria for major depression. Some feel stressed, while others have a full-blown diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.
- Mental illness impacts people at all levels: In fact, some research suggests that CEOs may be depressed at more than double the rate of the general public.
- Don’t wait: Just as it is important to educate people on healthy eating habits regardless of their current weight, it is imperative that we provide training to assist in improving mental wellness. Prevention and treatment can go hand-in-hand when it comes to addressing mental health issues in the workplace.
- Therapy is not the only answer: Yes, therapy can be extremely helpful for many. And, as a clinical psychologist, I have witnessed time and time again my clients transforming their lives for the better because of therapy. It is an important ingredient in addressing mental health. At the same time, it is not the only solution.
- Skills are key — and teachable: Overwhelming research in the field of cognitive behavioral therapy proves that skills training (such as how to change the way you think) is extremely effective at treating and even preventing mental health issues.
- It makes business sense: Research demonstrates that happier employees experience a 31 percent increase in productivity, a 37 percent increase in sales and 15 fewer sick days/year. What would such benefits do for your business, company or organization?
So, how does addressing mental health in the workplace look?
When I consult with companies and organizations to address mental health issues, my programs focus on learning new skills in a way that actually works with people’s busy schedules.
While it would be nice to offer all employees daily 90-minute yoga classes or weekly therapy sessions, such practices are not likely to actually work in the business world.
We offer customized programs that consist of 3-minute videos or audio programs. Each segment presents one skill: what it is, why it is important and how to apply it to even the busiest of lives. Topics can include how to be more resilient during corporate restructuring or how to deal with the anxiety associated with speaking in front of a group.
Want to learn more? Contact me.