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Mental Health Matters - So, Let's talk about it!

National Suicide Prevention Week 2013I know that mental health of employees is probably close to the bottom of the list of priorities when running a business. There are multiple important drivers that impact the success of your business. Besides, the topic of mental health is considered intangible, private, unfairly defined by stigma, and frankly, for most people, frightening. But – what you are ignoring may be what is preventing you from getting to the next level of success.

Your employees are your biggest asset, your best business advertisement, and how they feel and behave are important. According to a 2008 survey on the prevalence of depression, the CDC estimates that the percentage of depressed adults in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee ranges from 10.4-15%. Another study reports that depressed people miss an average of 4.8 workdays in a 3-month period and 11.5 days of reduced productivity. Depression is a medical condition that has many evidence-based successful treatments. But, here are the important missing pieces of this puzzle: most people don’t recognize the symptoms of depression, are ashamed or embarrassed to get help, or just don’t want to talk about it.

Even the best employee can go through rough times, and it can negatively affect your business. How much money could you save if the employee who is struggling with depression gets the help they need, no longer misses work, and increases in productivity? How much money could you save when an employee chooses not to leave their job, and you don’t have to advertise, hire and train a replacement? How much money could you save when an employee is successfully treated for depression and therefore does not run up high health care costs after going to the doctor for their stomach ulcers, sleep difficulties, high blood pressure and migraines?

Let’s start talking about mental health in the Greater Memphis Business community. It’s important to the health of your employees and to the health of your business. The earlier you address the mental health needs of your workforce, the less it will cost your business in the long term and the stronger and more productive your team will become. Lower healthcare costs and more productive employees can be a key ingredient in getting your business to that next level.

Do you stress work/life balance in your office? What are some of the programs you promote in the office to encourage your employees’ good mental health? Are you looking for ideas and solutions to address these issues? I welcome all comments and questions.

Be treated well,
-- Donna Tosches

Donna Tosches, LCSW, CEAPDonna Tosches, LCSW, CEAP, is the Director of the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network. Chamber members are eligible to a discounted rate for the full EAP service through the Chamber’s Affinity Program. Donna writes for several industry publications, her most recent article “It Takes A Village To Impact Wellness” having been published in the July 2013 issue of HR Professionals Magazine.

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