Mental health: Risk and ROI

The importance of mental health in the workplace

It’s good for your employees – and your business

The good news is that in the past decade, we’ve seen an increasing acceptance of ‘mental health issues’ in the workplace: You’re no longer risking your career if you admit that you need time off to deal with depression, or suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or need to leave early for a therapist appointment. Even in careers we normally think of as populated by ‘tough guys’, like first responders, there’s an increasing awareness of the need for better mental health care. 

The less good news is that there are still plenty of workplaces – and even industries – in which mental health problems are dismissed as something only ‘wimpy’ people have. Or that if you take a few days off to deal with your depression and get some medication, you should then be fine and back to working 60-hour weeks just like normal.

The truth is that if you haven’t experienced mental health challenges yourself, it can be tough to understand what other people are going on about – so it can be hard, if you’re a business leader, to understand a workplace culture which fosters poor mental health is a risk management crisis ready to happen. (The recent Stuff You Should Know podcast about how the term ‘going postal’ gained widespread use has some great information about how a toxic workplace environment can lead to all kinds of tragic consequences.)

But most business leaders can understand the costs of lost productivity, absenteeism and employee turnover – these are the kinds of drains on the bottom line that every senior manager would like to see less of in their organization.

So when we saw this infographic quantifying the costs of poor mental health in the workplace, we wanted to share it. Though it’s largely based on UK data, it’s actually a good summary of the toll that ignoring employees’ mental health will ultimately take on the bottom line.

Cost of mental health in the workplace