Why Employers Should Care About Mental Health

October 17, 2018

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), October 10 is World Mental Health Day.  The goal of the day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health.  Every year has a unique theme, and this year focuses on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.  Since mental health is a growing concern for employers, The Wellable Blog in launching a four-part series discussing mental health as it relates to the workplace.  Below are the weekly topics.  Subscribe to The Wellable Blog to receive email updates when the new posts are published.

Part 1 (October 3): Introduction To Mental Health

Part 2 (October 10): Scope Of The Mental Health Epidemic

Part 3 (October 17): Why Employers Should Care About Employee Mental Health

Part 4 (October 24): How Employers Can Improve Employee Mental Health


Mental Well-being Is Good For Business

The prevalence of mental health disorders in the workplace should pose numerous concerns amongst organizations, as poor mental health negatively impacts employee performance and productivity. Although employers should care about employee mental health because it is the right thing to do, the benefits of mental well-being in a workforce are strong enough on their own to make promoting it a sound business decision.  Below are just a few examples of how mental health impacts the bottom line of all businesses.



A large portion of the economic cost accumulated by poor mental health is realized in lost productivity. Research has shown that mental health disorders, when unaddressed, result in a notable loss of productivity in the workplace in the form of presenteeism or absenteeism. This is especially the case if employee stress stems from work-related matters. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates productivity loss to be approximately 200 million workdays (around $17 to $44 billion in lost productivity) in the United States every year.  The WHO estimates the cost of poor mental health to the global economy is $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.


Medical Expenses

In addition, poor mental health amongst employees results in high medical costs for the employer. One study sought to quantify the cost burden of depressed employees. Surprisingly, this mood disorder was the risk factor predicted to display the greatest cost increase out of all ten risk factors. Employees who reported being depressed, unable to manage stress, or a combination of the two were 70%, 46%, and 147% costlier than employees who did not experience these risk factors, respectively.



The tightening labor market is increasing the rate of employee turnover and making it harder for employers to retain current employees. This macroeconomic trend is exacerbated by poor mental health, as it is another factor that contributes to high turnover. The major argument in support of prioritizing employee wellness in the workplace is contingent on two ideas: (i) happy, healthy employees are more productive and (ii) employees are more likely to remain loyal to a company that is perceived to care for them. Both of these factors strongly attest to why employers should care about mental health; employees will not stay with an employer who neglects such a vital aspect of their overall well-being.



When mental health disorders go unaddressed, employee morale in the workplace will decline similar to retention. With the number of employment opportunities available in the current market, employers are under pressure to provide an optimal amount of employee benefits in order to maintain competitive positioning with the talent pool. Employers who ignore aspects of employee health will suffer a decline in reputation and will soon be overshadowed by their more progressive counterparts. In turn, the morale of their current labor force will suffer as well.

Because poor mental health can have such a detrimental impact on an organization, employers should allocate effort and resources to mitigating the issue. Stay tuned for next week as The Wellable Blog explores what employers can do to improve the mental health epidemic in the workplace. 

Topics: Corporate Wellness

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