Earlier this year, results from an Australian study of over 3,500 employees across 42 organisations from different industries found that one third of the participants were suffering from some form of mental disorder. Of those, 36% were suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety, and 31% from stress.
The results echo the statistics from other parts of the world. In the UK, the National Centre of Social Research reports that 26% of people have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and a further 18% experience an undiagnosed mental disorder each year. The USA reports 20% – 32% of adults have a mental health condition each year, depending on the study. Research on prevalence in Canada and New Zealand show similar results.
Staggeringly, 58% of women and 73% of males who met the clinical criteria for depression or anxiety did not know they had a problem. Only 17% of participants in the clinical ranges for depression or anxiety were seeking help. 47% of employees do not feel comfortable discussing a mental health condition with their manager.
The implications for workplaces include increased absenteeism, presenteeism, disability claims, accidents, injuries and illnesses, grievances and complaints, turnover and legal implications.
Globally, mental health problems are estimated to cost workplaces 2.5 trillion US dollars, and that’s expected to rise to 5 trillion by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.
What Is Stress? And How Does It Lead To Mental Health Problems?
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress is the biological and physical response to a perceived threat or danger and is often described as a feeling of being overwhelmed or worried. In modern day society, everyday stressors include managing work and family commitments, work deadlines, financial pressures and family issues. Stress can also be caused by sudden negative change, including loss of a loved one or job, or experiencing trauma, such as a major accident or natural disaster.
Not all stress is bad. Stress can be highly motivating at times and can enable us to perform in job interviews, work presentations etc. The majority of people are equipped with the ability to handle short lived periods of stress. However, prolonged periods of stress or excessive stress can lead to significant mental and physical health problems including depression and anxiety.
Everyday stress can be the toughest type of stress to tackle because the source of the problem tends to be more constant, and the body therefore stays in a state of alarm.
Something needs to be done to stop the tide.
Why Businesses Should Be Investing In Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Training?
A decade ago, one in five employees were living with a mental disorder in a given year and, according to the latest studies around the world, the statistics are worsening. There is still a stigma associated with mental health conditions, and approximately half the time, individuals do not seek help or even know they have a problem. In very real terms this means that management is often operating with half of the information they need to manage their employees.
To tackle this issue, it’s important for HR professionals to offer a wide range of wellbeing initiatives, as one size does not fit all.
Mindfulness based stress reduction training is evidence based education that has proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and can be offered in conjunction with other organizational wellbeing initiatives, to improve staff productivity, performance and wellbeing.
According to PWC, organizations that are dedicated to creating a mentally healthy workplace, can expect a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3.