Mental health in the workplace

Mental health in the workforce statistics:

  • More than 25 percent of people in any given year experience some kind of anxiety, depression or other mental health condition.
  • Mental health conditions cause greater disability than cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Mental illness and substance abuse cost employers an estimated $80 to $100 billion in indirect costs each year.
  • Forty percent of workers report their jobs as “very or extremely stressful.”
  • Five out of 20 workers in an office will likely develop a mental health condition.
  • Those with depression average 5.6 hours a week of lost productive work time due to decreased work performance or presenteeism.
  • About two-thirds of people with symptoms of mental disorders do not receive any treatment at all for their condition.
  • Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the U.S. economy, costing more than $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs.
  • Sixty-five to 80 percent of individuals with mental disorders improve with appropriate diagnosis, treatment and ongoing monitoring.
  • Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
  • Employers who support wellness through stress management have seen a 26 percent decline in health care costs.
  • Workplace health promotion saves employers an average of $5.81 per dollar spent.   
  • Forty-seven percent of rural hospital chief executive officers reported shortages of psychiatrists in their communities.

Creating a healthy workplace culture

  • Offer employees access to mental health information and resources.
  • Include mental health in health promotion programs in order to raise awareness.
  • Make sure employees understand the behavioral health benefits in their insurance policy.
  • Be proactive about informing employees of upcoming changes — both good and bad.
  • Develop foundations for workplace conversations and healthy work relationships.
  • Manage conflict.
  • Monitor and develop supervisory leadership skills.
  • Promote and respect work/life balance.
  • Provide debriefing in the event of a traumatic event (i.e., an accident or loss of a co-worker).
  • Recognize warning signs of mental health conditions.

Source: Dawn Zak, Mental Health America of Wisconsin

Signs of depression

  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Persistent sadness or “empty” moods.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of energy and motivation.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Eating more or eating less.
  • Loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness.

Signs of anxiety

  • Increased tension.
  • An unrelenting sense of unease.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Difficulty starting and completing tasks.


Mental Health America of Wisconsin:

Partnership for Workplace Mental Health:

Families and Work Institute:

National Business Group on Health:

Great Lakes ADA Center:

Job Accommodation Network:

National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Milwaukee:

WELCOA (The Wellness Council of America):

IMPACT 2-1-1 or

WISE (Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination): 

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