Did you know one in four adult Americans have a form of mental illness. That is an alarming rate of 61. 5 million Americans suffer from some type of mental illness, well according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) this is exactly the case. What does this mean in the workplace? While mental illness is higher in adults, how does this effect businesses, employers, and employees? Mental illness is the leading cause of employees being absent, according to the American Psychological Association, employee absents cost American employers one billion dollars in loss of productivity every year.
While mental illness is continuing to rise, it shouldn’t be a reason for people to be unemployed. Understanding what mental illness actually is, its effects on people and their lives and different treatments to help deal with mental illness are important for employers to learn as well as the employees and the general public. Let’s start by taking a look at what mental illness is, what is the definition of mental illness?
The Mayo Clinic defines mental illness as, “Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions – disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior” (1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education nd Research). While the definition is clear, disorders meaning many conditions can make you mentally ill. There are over 450 total mental disorders that have been defined by the American Psychiatric Association but the types of main types mental illness are; depression, bi-polar, anxiety, insomnia, psychotic/ schizophrenia, eating disorders, and drug/alcohol addictions.
These can range from mild to severe conditions, some of these conditions if left untreated leave people disabled and unable to do anything. Depression, anxiety and bi-polar are all mood disorders that may play into one another. Depression can often times make ou feel like you are hopeless, have a sense of guilt, change your appetite which may add to weight loss or weight gain, loss of interest in things or people, trouble concentrating and may include fatigue or problems sleeping.
Anxiety, is a panic disorder, that gives you a feeling of panic or fear, it can make you feel numbness, heart palpitations, cold sweats, nervousness, it can make you restless and nauseas. Bipolar disorder is both of those together, sometimes you’re at a manic high and other times will be at a depressive low, but you have no control over your moods, the simplest things may set you nto a high or low, which can make for a very unpredictable person.
Insomnia is a disorder that prevents you from sleeping, often your thoughts from either depression, anxiety or even bipolar disorder can keep you up and restless, it not only makes it hard to fall asleep it is hard to stay asleep, and even once asleep its often restless. Lack of sleep or solid sleep leads to lack of energy, fatigue, and feeling drained and takes a toll on your ability to function properly during the day. Schizophrenia defined by the National Institution of Mental Health as a “chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder”.
This disorder doesn’t allow them to understand reality, people with schizophrenia live in an unrealistic world mentally, because they interpret the world unrealistically. People who suffer from such a severe condition often are shut-ins and are on high doses of medication and are under intensive psychiatric care. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that the cause is still unknown, doctors often think it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain, or the environment, but it’s not for certain.
Eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge-eating disorder usually coexists with depression according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. All these eating disorders either mean that a person is depriving themselves of food, due to the obsession of their personal body image. The long term effects of eating disorders are severe on the body and mind, and can either add to depression or anxiety and can also contribute to long term health effects.
Addictions such as alcohol or drug abuse, can be stemmed from depression as well as anxiety. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, INC says drug and alcohol addictions are, “the nation’s number one health problem, addiction strains the economy, the health care system, the riminal justice system, and threatens job security, public safety, marital and family life”. Drug and Alcohol addiction contributes to more job loss, and affects every race, gender, and age group.
All these forms of mental illness present some type of an issue when it comes to keeping, holding, and functioning in a job. Imagine being depressed, or having insomnia, even anxiety and how tired you may be from lack of sleep, would you be able to give your best performance at work? Not only lack of energy, but if you are just down and out from being depressed or if you are nervous from anxiety. Imagine being bipolar, one day you were nervous and sweating and couldn’t socialize at work and the next day you were grumpy and quiet because you were depressed?
Would a company want to employ someone with these issues? Or keep them employed? It is estimated that Mental illness and substance abuse annually cost employers in indirect costs an estimated $80 to $100 billion (A Mentally Healthy Workforce, 2007). Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder all come with loss of productivity due to the side effects these mental illnesses have, such as chronic pain, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, fatigue, and migraines.
Depression alone results in 400 million work day absences a year, and the annual indirect costs per employee equal $4426 for someone with major depressive disorder and $9619 for bipolar disorder (Innerworkings, 2007, p. 8). If you have 20 employees and one in every 4 people have one of these mental illnesses, that’s five employees, as an indirect cost to the employer 22,130. 00 a year, for just five employees with depression. How do we fix the problem? Education on mental illness, if you’re an employer it is important for you to be able to set up some type of a program to help your employee.
If you’re n employee, it is important for you to be aware of signs, symptoms, and take advantage of the help that is offered maybe not just through an employer but through your health insurance, or through different local organizations in your area. A lot of businesses now days are offering some sort of mental illness/health screening tool either on the computers at work, sent via email through the company or in meetings to help people become aware if they do suffer from such a problem.
Employers can also offer benefits that help assist with the cost of mental illness, its medications, screenings and appointments. Helping reduce the stress at work by having a positive training team and a uplifting, supportive management team can also help with mental health problems, it is important that because mental illness is truly a problem that it is not only recognized by companies, but help and assistance is offered to help with company costs, stability and productivity which in turn helps these people with their home lives as well.
Some say mental illness is a man made disease, that psychiatrists and doctors made up the disease that some people just aren’t right in the head and they use the term disease as a crutch in order to not be a fully functioning member f society. The bible may not use the term mental illness, but it is true people with “problems” is nothing new to society, so putting some type of a label on them and say that this is all made up seems to be an unfair statement.
While some may argue it wouldn’t make sense for God to want the people of the world to suffer from such illnesses, we could say the same thing about cancer, or murder. Sin has been here since the Garden of Eden, with sin in the world, diseases have developed and so have a lot of other bad things, including mental illness, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, etc. The bible may not use those xact terms. The Bible does teach us that with God we can get through anything.
Keeping your relationship with God strong during a time in life when someone suffering from a mental illness is very important. As Christians, it is our job not to label, judge or tear down one another the bible says, “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.
But you – who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11, NIV). Not only does the bible tell us to not judge and help one another but it also tells us that God is here to help us, and through him anything is possible, Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ” While the statistics show mental illness is a huge problem, it is continuing to rise and cost businesses millions of dollars every year, we are left with the question of how to fix it?
Of course, there are plenty of medications to cover up the problems and some people do need them in order to function, but there are so many resources nd ways to help resolve this issue, but starting by bringing more help to children as they are younger starting in the schools can help children not have a complex about it as an adult and it also will help them to deal with their issues better throughout life, businesses can also take action, churches can bring awareness from a biblical perspective.
Instead making people feel like a statistic or a nuisance we can come together to fix these problems. There are many local, online, and free resources in every community, 211 is a help line anyone can call from any phone in any state at any time. A 24 hour service that ill direct you to local counselors, therapists, meetings, doctors that are available to help through troubled times, and can help with free services to help with mental health, addiction, and ? medications.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) www. ami. org offers online help directory to local community resources and online resources, free online mental health check. October 4TH is world wide mental health awareness day where schools, communities and businesses to raise awareness to the general public about mental health, effects and issues. If we continue to let this spiral out of control can you imagine what the world will become? If you’re a parent raising a child ed your children are more likely to be depressed.
If you have a hard time holding a good job due to a mental illness your home is likely to suffer, which in turn makes businesses suffer and plays a part in the economy. Now imagine the opposite, if more people were actively involved in bettering themselves, they would be happier, there children would be happier, our economy would be doing great, our future generations would have more of a success rate and our business local and corporate would grow even more than they are.