Case Study

Investing in Mental Health

A growing number of multinational companies are beginning to tackle one of the biggest causes of lost productivity globally — mental health.

Mental health disorders are very common, with more than 1 in 10 people affected globally. The World Health Organization estimates untreated depression and anxiety alone lead to approximately $1 trillion in global productivity losses each year.

“No one in the healthcare system today, not families, the medical profession, or law enforcement, has the resources to tackle the mental health crisis alone. Organizations of all types need to work together to be part of the solution, and companies need to do more to adapt to employees with mental health conditions.”

American healthcare company Johnson & Johnson has developed a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of its employees. The program includes stress management and mental health screening tools that help identify employees at risk of depression, alcohol problems, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and eating disorders, and provides them with both informal social support and qualified treatment. EAP interventions have been found to not only improve employee’s emotional well-being but also produce improvement in work performance, reductions in lost productivity, absenteeism and healthcare costs.

Global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase has been using internal health data to better support its employees with mental health challenges. Around 60% of their employees are covered by the company’s pharmacy plan, and within that group the company found that antidepressants ranked at number three in terms of the amount of money spent. Since this revelation, the company has implemented a holistic approach to mental health management that involves early identification, and when necessary, skilled support by licensed clinicians and psychiatrists. Two of the most effective elements have been educating managers about how to recognize depression and anxiety disorders and how to refer team members to the company’s EAP. The goal is not for managers to start diagnosing people but rather to teach them how to reach out with empathy and sensitivity, and connect colleagues with the right workplace resources before problems reach the threshold of disability.

By collecting more comprehensive data on employee health and wellbeing (while protecting data privacy), companies can be better positioned to support employees with comprehensive support services that benefit both individual wellbeing, and financial bottom lines. Companies at the vanguard of this movement will likely experience reputational benefits, as well as reaping the rewards of increased employee productivity, loyalty and improved talent attraction and retention.

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