There is more to wellness than making sure your blood pressure is under control or if you can fit into your jeans. While physical wellness is critical in reducing health risks and health care spending, there’s another area of wellness that does not receive as much press or programming but is vital to the workplace, which is mental health.
The Cost of Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), reports that 217 million workdays, at a cost of more than $44 billion dollars, can be attributed to depression and other mental disorders. Absence, disability and lost productivity attributed to mental illness costs more than four times that of all medical treatments – both physical and mental. These costs are also interrelated, mental disorders often co-occur with physical illness, which can lead to longer periods of disability.
Contributing to this cost is the stigma surrounding mental health. Many employees suffer in silence. Employers can reduce the stigma by integrating mental health awareness and education into your company’s wellness program. One way to do this is to publicize, and encourage the use of, your EAP (employee assistance program), which often offers a variety of resources including help lines, websites, and in some cases, off site meetings with clinicians. With a wellness budget, stress reduction and other programming related to mental health should be added.
Without a budget, you can still address this concern by encouraging regular vacations and a good work life balance. There are also some fun tools available that can help keep a healthy outlook, like MoodScope.
Moodscope is a free online tool that helps you monitor your mood. Using it can help you understand why you feel the way you do. In turn, you can then make choices to help you feel better. The research is all there with a click of a key at http://www.moodscope.com. I’ve been using Moodscope for a few months and have a better idea of some of my mood triggers, which then can help me change my behavior.
Emotional wellness is often neglected in the workplace but the impact is anything but negligible. Whether it’s Moodscope or some other EAP resource, make sure your wellness programs include this critical concern.