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Image by Mitchell Luo

The majority of employers and employees report workplace stigma around mental health. Even in the most progressive workplaces, many employees keep their conditions secret. They may be afraid that being open about them will hurt their reputation, compromise work relationships, or even jeopardize their job.

The cost of staying silent

Because stigma drives silence, employers simply can’t afford not to talk about this issue. The mental health of your workforce and your company’s bottom line are inextricably linked.

  • Employees with untreated mental health conditions use nonpsychiatric health care services 3 times more than those who do get treatment.5

  • Mental illness is the single greatest cause of worker disability worldwide.6

  • 62% of missed workdays can be attributed to mental health conditions.7

  • 50% of full-time employees have left a role for mental health reasons and the number is significantly higher for Millennials (68%) and Gen Zers (81%).8

  • Mentally distressed workers are 3.5 times more likely to have substance use disorders.9

mental health stigma is still a major challenge in the workplace. About half of workers were concerned about discussing mental health issues at their jobs. More than one in three were concerned about retaliation or being fired if they sought mental health care.

Only about only about one in five workers were completely comfortable talking about mental health issues. The poll found a generational divide: millennials were almost twice as likely as baby boomers to be comfortable (62% vs. 32%) discussing their mental health.

On a more positive note, about half of workers were at least somewhat comfortable talking about mental health and most workers said they would help guide a troubled co-worker to mental health resources. However, even among those willing to help, about one in four workers said they would not know where to turn for mental health help.

Mental health conditions are associated with the prevalence, progression, and outcome of certain physical conditions. Employees with untreated mental health conditions tend to have more serious and costly health issues in general. For example, their risk for heart attacks and strokes is twice as high — and cardiovascular disease is America’s most costly and prevalent chronic condition.10,11 And people with severe mental health issues are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.12

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