Mental Health Issues Can Cost Millions

Posted by: 
Michael Klachefsky

In the current economy, every penny counts. Workplace productivity is now more essential than ever, especially because many companies have downsized workforces. As a result, employees are stretched thin and are being asked to do more with less.

This overextension of the workforce has contributed to a larger number of behavioral disorders, which fall into two categories:

  • Anxiety disorders, as a result of stress
  • Mood disorders, which include depression and bipolar disorder

Because employees try to work through these illnesses, employers are faced with challenges related to presenteeism, a major cause of lost productivity.

Can You Afford to Waste $1 Million?

It’s common knowledge that presenteeism impacts an employer’s bottom line. However, it wasn’t until recently that studies began to quantify the cost and impact of presenteeism associated with behavioral health.

According to the Integrated Benefits Institute, a depressed employee contributes to 7.5 days of lost productivity per year.1 Hypothetically, a company with 1,000 employees, each averaging a salary of $50,000 per year ($192 a day), could lose up to $1.4 million per year as a result of employee presenteeism.

Curbing Behavioral Health-Related Presenteeism

An employer’s proactive approach can help reduce the financial effects of behavioral health-related lost productivity. Research has found the cost of screening for, and treatment of, behavioral disorders to be more than offset by the resulting increase in productivity.2

Consider these ideas to address your workforce’s behavioral health:

  • Educate employees on behavioral health issues, and offer behavioral health screening. This can help employees recognize and address potential problems before they negatively impact them at work.
  • Involve an employee assistance plan (EAP) in stay-at-work interventions. An EAP can be a vital resource to help employees deal with issues, either at work or at home.
  • Consider job modifications, including changes in duties, work location or working hours. Allowing for employee flexibility can help alleviate stress, which can boost productivity.
  • Improve employer pharmacy programs. Pharmacy programs can have a significant impact. A pharmacy benefit provider also may offer services to help ensure employees with behavioral health disorders not only receive the correct medicines but also are compliant with taking them as required.


1 The Full Costs of Depression in the Workplace. Integrated Benefits Institute. 2009.

2 Getting upstream of psychological disability in the workforce — who are we not seeing and at what cost? The WORC Project. The University of Queensland and Harvard University workshop presentation. January 15, 2007.