Mental Health in the Workplace

Businesses can improve productivity by providing preventative services.

After two DUIs and a pattern of arriving late to work, damaging her personal relationships and letting her professional responsibilities fall by the wayside, Allison knew that she had an alcohol problem. She knew that she needed help.

Frustrated by where she found herself, Allison took a leave of absence from her job to seek treatment. Within one year this once completely self-sufficient woman lost her job, income, driver license, home, vehicle, and overall sense of control.

The financial and emotional strain left her without many options, so she turned to Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, a local nonprofit healthcare organization that provides treatment options to individuals with mental illness and addictions.

There, she received intensive care and a case plan catered to her individual needs. Over the next five months, the healthcare professionals at Meridian worked tirelessly to help Allison get her life back on track and to help achieve her professional goals. Allison explained that “Meridian staff went above and beyond what they had to do for me.”

Regarding her experiences in the program, she explains that “It was a scary situation. I was intimidated by the population at Meridian at first until I realized we were all sharing a common thing, and eventually it felt like we had known each other forever.

“They help you realize that it’s a disease and teach you how to manage it.”

Today Allison has her disease under control and is constantly working to make amends for her actions. She still has some obstacles in her life, such as her reliance on public transportation and limitations in her career field, but thanks to Meridian, Allison says that her personal relationships are better than ever and that she has been given the tools to create a healthy lifestyle.

 

The Cost of Mental Illness

 

While “Allison’s” story is real and she is one of Meridian’s clients, we changed her name to protect her confidential health information. There are still many stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and addictions, but these challenges are more common than we would generally like to believe. One in four people around the world are affected by mental illness, and more than five percent have conditions so severe that they are disabling for periods of time.

Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from depression, which is greater than the number of people affected by coronary heart disease, cancer, or HIV/AIDS. The economic burden of depression by itself in this country is estimated at $30 billion.

Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related substance abuse tend to run against economic trends, meaning that the poor economic conditions that we are experiencing today cause these disorders to rise and have a negative effect on business productivity in already harsh economic climates.

Overall, businesses in the United States lose approximately $8 billion per year as a result of mental-illness-related issues involving employees. This is generally due to employee absenteeism in which they take time off of work due to mental illness, or are distracted, withdrawn, and their work is slowed.

These issues interfere with a person’s ability to function in the workplace and even their ability to care for themselves, making them unproductive employees and causing companies to lose time and money.

 

Creating a Healthy Business


Taking note of the substantial impact that mental illness and substance abuse has on businesses and the fact that prevention costs approximately six-times less than direct care, Meridian is turning its attention to the business community through its Healthy Business Program.

This program offers assistance, referrals, short-term support, and intervention services to improve the productivity and overall well-being of employees. These preventative measures can be extremely beneficial to businesses and help save money in the long run.

This confidential program is designed to help employees overcome any issue that effects job performance and to improve workplace efficiency. Services include management, consultation, supervisory training, employee education, individual and motivational counseling, and assessment of mental health, substance abuse and other workplace challenges.

By pinpointing issues before they arise, or at early onset, Meridian can offer a solution and help to implement preventative measures to ensure safe and productive work environments for all involved.

One of the most important features of the Healthy Business program is the Mental Health First Aid training course. It gives individuals the skills to assist someone experiencing a mental health or emotional problem in a crisis situation before the proper support arrives. With the right skill set, employees can be prepared to help each other in the event that a mental health emergency arises and help those in need receive appropriate care.

Other Healthy Business services include Live Scan electronic fingerprinting, background screening, and a team-building ropes course, along with varying consultation and administrative services that can increase the overall efficiency of a business.

Meridian’s President/CEO Maggie Labarta stated that “Meridian’s reason for being is to invest in better, more efficient care” for its clients and its ultimate goal is to improve outcomes while reducing costs and bringing care to as many people as possible. Meridian is expanding its client base to include more individuals with private health insurances, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and is focusing on positioning itself at the front end of prevention and wellness activities in the community.

Meridian has been serving people in our community for 40 years to ensure that choice, hope, and recovery are within everyone’s reach. In hopes of changing the perception of mental health and substance disorders, Meridian is moving to integrate its services with the business and broader healthcare communities to promote prevention and improve overall the health and wellness.

 

By Renae Cromwell

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