The Power of Mental Health Initiatives in the Workplace

By Jenna Mahannah May 15th, 2024

It’s no secret that mental health continues to be a significant concern worldwide, and the United States is no exception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s reported that more than 1-in-5 U.S. adults live with some sort of mental illness, and 1-in-25 U.S. adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

With roughly 63% of Americans in the U.S. labor force, the workplace holds a substantial opportunity to improve mental well-being among adults.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we will examine the effects of mental health in the workplace, discuss ways employers can promote wellness in their organizations, and discuss the role mental wellness plays in the group captives we support.

The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

Employees suffering from mental health disorders often struggle with job performance, communication, productivity, and daily functioning, which can have a significant impact on an organization.

In particular, depression is known to be a leading driver behind impacted job performance and high healthcare costs in the workplace.

Consider the following statistics from the CDC:

  • Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.
  • Only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those who report severe depression receive treatment to control depression symptoms.
  • Even after taking other health risks such as smoking and obesity into account, employees at high risk of depression had the highest health care costs during the three years after an initial health risk assessment.

Promoting Mental Wellness in the Workplace

According to the CDC, the workplace is an ideal environment to promote mental wellness for several reasons.

  • Internal communication systems are readily available.
  • Employers can offer incentives to encourage healthy behavior.
  • Employers can use data to track progress, measure success, and adjust their wellness program as needed.

So, how do employers begin to promote mental wellness within their organizations? Consider a few suggestions provided by the CDC:

  • Offer free or subsidized clinical screenings for depression from a qualified mental health professional, followed by directed feedback and clinical referral when appropriate.
  • Provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling, or self-management programs.
  • Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.
  • Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities.
  • Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek qualified help.
  • Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect job stress.
  • Offer a health insurance plan that provides mental health support services.

Mental Health Initiatives in Group Captives

While the wellness initiatives suggested above are great ways for employers to get started, it’s important to further discuss the last bullet point about the availability of mental health services.

It’s well known that employer-sponsored health plan costs have increased substantially over the years. In fact, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average employer cost for family premiums has more than tripled for companies of all sizes over the last two decades.

So, how do employers offer a health benefits plan that improves the lives of their employees without breaking the bank?

In recent years, an increasing number of small and mid-sized employers have explored Medical Stop Loss group captives as an alternative to first-dollar health insurance and traditional self-funded health insurance programs. The Medical Stop Loss group captives we support enjoy access to a wide selection of resources, including the sharing of wellness initiative ideas to drive down the total cost of healthcare.

Because our member-owned group captive model focuses on safety, mental health solutions also have their place in the casualty group captives we support. By focusing on employees' mental well-being, employers can create a safer and more productive work environment for their employees, ultimately improving their bottom line.

Learn more about workplace mental health in a summary of Captive Resources’ Health Risk Management webinar discussing emerging mental health initiatives.

Promoting wellness in the workplace has the power to significantly improve the lives of employees while lowering costs. When implemented correctly, wellness initiatives can have a significant impact on an organization and its employees.

Share this article