Today, as we recognise World Mental Health Day, one in five Australians are suffering from a mental health disorder. And they aren’t alone. Each year, an estimated additional 6 million of us are at risk of developing a mental illness. Nearly half the population will suffer from a mental health condition during their life. More alarmingly, mental health has been identified as the number one concern for young Australians.
The financial impact of rising mental health issues on the economy is staggering. It’s calculated at $60 billion per year, around 4 percent of GDP. Businesses are impacted through lost wages, the cost of mental health support services and decreased productivity, to the tune of $13 billion annually.
Efforts to improve mental health and wellbeing
Government efforts have focussed on managing existing problems, rather than proactively addressing the root cause. Knowing that mental illness is a huge economic burden on society, and reaching epidemic proportions, we need a more integrated and proactive approach. This is not simply an issue facing individual sufferers, it is a issue facing business, government and society.
Business prosperity is unavoidably linked to the world in which it operates. It makes sense for businesses to play a role in prevention and early intervention of mental illness. Employee Assistance Programs and Workplace Health and Safety initiatives have their place. However, there is a more pressing need, and benefit, for business to be more proactive.
Helen Steel, CEO, Shared Value Project recently reported, “Addressing mental ill-health can increase employee efficiency and attendance, improve customer engagement and financial stability, and create more thriving communities to do business with. Ultimately, healthier stakeholders equate to a healthier bottom line.” Investing in improving mental wellbeing in the workplace can generate positive returns to business, through both reduced costs and increased profitability. Undoubtedly, it would assist in cementing employees and customers’ trust too.
It is timely to focus on improving mental health in your organisation. To help in this regard, Money101 is providing a link to one of our employer Financial Wellbeing program modules, “Suicide Prevention”. This link will be active until the end of October.