Why does your company offer health insurance to your employees? Sure, it’s a benefit that helps you attract and keep people, but there’s a bigger reason. Offering help with medical needs keeps employees healthier, so they show up to work more often and are more productive when they’re there. If they or their families run into medical problems, they can get help without being put into a financially precarious situation, so they don’t get worried or distracted.

So why should you take a similar approach to their mental health? Were you aware that mental health issues lead to more lost work time than chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, back pain, and heart disease? In fact, the World Health Organization has predicted that just one mental health issue — depression — will lead to more days of lost work than any other illness by 2020. And the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health has estimated that mental health issues (including substance abuse) cost businesses as much as $100 million annually through lost productivity, absenteeism, and other indirect costs.

For many years, we have looked the other way when it comes to mental health, pretending that it’s something that happens to other people, or that we should be ashamed of it. But as many as 43.7 million American adults are currently battling some kind of mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. Odds are good that many of your employees are either dealing with those conditions themselves or have a family member who needs help.

Employers can play an important role in helping employees deal with mental health issues. If an employee became disabled tomorrow and needed to use a wheelchair, you probably wouldn’t think twice about making accommodations in your office. What if that same employee is fighting depression or substance abuse? Would you be ready to help?

A recent CEO Summit on Mental Health identified four principles that can guide companies in helping employees with mental health issues:

  • Know the impact: Understand the impact that mental illness has on the well-being of organizations and their staff.
  • Break the silence: Nurture an environment that erases the stigma of mental illness.
  • Deliver affordable access: Provide individuals with mental illness access to quality mental health quality care.
  • Build a culture of well-being: Create a workplace that encourages individuals to support their own overall health and mental health.

Care to Change works with local businesses to establish programs to provide that support. We can accept referrals from employers and set up programs through which your employees have priority access to care from our team. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and what we can do to help! Connect with us today by calling 317-79-9396, or e-mailing our director April Bordeau, at april.bordeau@caretochange.org.

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