Mental Illness Affects Everyone

Do you know that 1 in 4 Americans will suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year? Do you know that approximately 60% of adults, and almost 50% of youth, ages 8 -15, with a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year? Do you know that serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year?

Good mental health, an essential component of overall health and well-being, is often overlooked in both the community and the workplace, even though the statistics are staggering. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and many other developed countries. These disorders affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of poor mental health at some point or stage in our life. Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthritis.

The top reasons for workplace employee assistance calls typically are related to mental or emotional health, relationships, family and children, and stress and anxiety disorders. Often cited as a leading causes of lost workplace productivity, research has shown the impact one's mental state can have on productivity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is a major cause of disability, absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity loss among working-age adults.

Depression is the most prevalent mental health problem, affecting more than 21 million American children and adults annually. Lost productive time among U.S. workers due to depression is estimated to be in excess of $31 billion per year.

Organizations benefit when employees have good mental health. Mental health is associated with higher productivity, better performance, more consistent work attendance, and fewer workplace accidents. Poor mental health affects a person's physical health. Excessive anxiety and stress can contribute to physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis. Anxiety and stress can also reduce the strength of the immune system, making people more vulnerable to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer. In addition, research studies have shown that when people receive appropriate mental health care, their use of medical services declines.

Here are some good resources to help be informed about mental illness:
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
  • National Mental Health Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
Here are some resources to stay mentally healthy:

Remember that good mental health strengthens and supports our ability to have healthy relationships, make good life choices, maintain physical health and well-being, handle the natural ups and downs of life, and discover and grow towards our full potential. Without the programs and support in place to help improve the mental well-being of employees, lasting change is difficult to sustain.

Mental illness, unfortunately, still carries with it a stigma and doesn't get the attention it both deserves and needs. Stay educated and informed.