Mental Health in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Statistics

Mental health issues have always been common, but recent mental health statistics show that the pandemic has made things worse. As mental health can impact everything from productivity and turnover to workers’ compensation claims, employers are realizing that they need to provide mental health support.

Mental Health by the Numbers

Mental illnesses are far from rare. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one in five US adults lives with some form of mental illness. Rates of mental illness vary with age, with 30.6 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 and 25.3 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 49 experiencing some form of mental illness.

During the pandemic, mental health issues became even more common. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase may have been due to many factors, including fear of the virus as well as isolation and loneliness. Among healthcare workers, exhaustion may also have been a contributing factor.

How Mental Illness Impacts Work

Mental illness doesn’t just impact a person’s personal life – it can also have a major impact on work life.

The CDC says that poor mental health and stress can negatively affect productivity, engagement, communication with coworkers, physical capabilities, and daily functioning. In people with depression, ability to carry out physical job tasks is impacted in 20 percent of cases and cognitive ability is affected in 35 percent of cases.

Substance abuse can also negatively impact work – substance abuse and mental illness often co-occur, according to the NIMH. Like mental illness, substance abuse may have increased during the pandemic. The CDC says that 13 percent of US adults reported that they started or increased substance use during late June 2020.

Mental Health and Workers’ Compensation

Mental illness may contribute to workplace injuries. For example, a worker who is suffering from lack of sleep or reduced concentration due to mental illness may be at higher risk of injury.

Substance abuse can also be a factor in injuries. If a worker is injured because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the employer may have grounds to deny a workers’ compensation claim for the injury. However, the employer may need to prove that the worker was under the influence at the time.

In some cases, the mental illness itself may be grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. Whether a worker can receive workers’ compensation benefits for a mental illness will depend on the nature of the mental illness as well as state law. According to Insurance Business America, conditions including anxiety, depression, stress, and PTSD may be covered if the condition is severe enough to disrupt the worker’s ability to perform his or her job.

Supporting Your Team’s Mental Health

With mental illness so prevalent among working-aged individuals in the U.S., it is highly probable that some employees in any given workplace are struggling with mental health issues. In many cases, job stress can trigger or worsen mental health issues – this is especially true in high-stress industries, such as healthcare.

By providing support for mental health, employers can help their workers and create healthier, more productive workplaces. Mental health support may also be a powerful recruitment and retention strategy. According to the 2022 Work and Well-being Survey from the American Psychological Association (APA), 81 percent of people say they will be looking for workplaces that provide mental health support when they look for jobs in the future.

Employers can support mental health in different ways, such as:

  • Providing mental health benefits and programs. These benefits can include employee assistance programs (EAPs), remote counseling, and relaxation apps.
  • Respecting work–life balance. Workers have commitments outside of work. Plus, they also need time off to relax and recharge. The APA study found that 41 percent of people want flexible work hours and 34 percent want a workplace culture that respects time off.
  • Fostering a positive work environment. If employees don’t feel respected and valued or if they are constantly worried about being yelled at, their mental health may suffer. A healthy work environment is one where employees are supported and their hard work is recognized.

Recent mental health statistics show that mental illness and stress have become major risks. At Tangram, we offer customized insurance programs to help businesses manage their unique workers’ compensation exposures. Contact us.