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Tue, Jan. 28

Well-being boost means improved productivity

You may have an interest in promoting a healthy work environment, but you also worry about the expense of providing mental health coverage, wellness programs or educational activities for your staff. Now, more than ever, it makes good business sense to keep mental health and substance abuse issues on an employer's radar. The current economic environment is causing stress levels to be at all-time highs for many individuals.

The mind/body connection is undeniable. People who have untreated mental health issue use more general health services than those who seek mental health care when they need it. That translates to dramatic, and unnecessary, increases in your organization's healthcare bill. The website www.mentalhealthamerica.net offers the following information for employers to consider:

• Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.

• Researchers estimate that 50 to 80 percent of all medical illnesses reported to physicians have a strong emotional or stress-related component.

More than 90 percent of employees agree that their mental health and personal problems spill over into their professional lives, and have a direct impact on their job performance. Some more interesting statistics:

• Untreated and mistreated mental illness costs the United States $150 billion in lost productivity each year, and U.S. businesses foot up to $44 billion of this bill.

• Workplace stress causes about 1 million employees to miss work each day.

• Three out of four employees who seek care for workplace issues or mental health problems see substantial improvement in work performance after treatment.

Keep in mind that on top of all these factors, your organization may be experiencing more absenteeism, reduced productivity and inferior work quality from staff members who face the emotional stress and time demands of caring for family members who have mental health and related problems.

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