Calculator Shows Investment in Employees’ Mental Health Pays Off

  • Published
  • 26 May 2021
  • Category
  • News
Employers can expect to see a return of $4 for every $1 invested in mental health care, according to research from the National Safety Council (NSC) and NORC at the University of Chicago.

When employees receive effective treatment for mental distress, organizations realize reduced total medical costs, increased productivity, lower absenteeism and decreased disability costs, researchers found. Their analysis also revealed organizations spend an average of $15,000  annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues. The findings are based on pre-COVID-19 costs and likely under-represent current related costs.

In a survey, 85 percent of respondents said their workplace affects their mental health and well-being. Chronic exposure to stressful conditions at work and in one’s personal life is associated with depression, anxiety, poor concentration and emotional exhaustion.

NSC and NORC at the University of Chicago have created the Mental Health Cost Calculator, funded by Nationwide, to provide business leaders with data-driven insights about the costs of employee mental distress. Metrics include lost work days, staff turnover and replacement costs, and health care expenditures by employees and their family members. The calculator also offers research-proven steps employers can take to help employees and their family members recover, while increasing the safety, health and productivity of their workplaces.

Other findings from the analysis include:

  • Employees experiencing mental distress use, on average, nearly $3,000 more in health care services per year than their peers. The cost of days lost averages $4,783 per year per employee, and the costs of turnover averages $5,733 per year per employee.
  • Distress varies greatly across occupations. Occupations with high levels of distress are entertainment, sports, media and communications, technicians and related support occupations, while low prevalence occupations include executive, administrative, managerial, financial, protective services and construction.
  • Employees who have experienced mental distress in the past year are more likely to have reported driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.
  • Mentally distressed workers are 3.5 times more likely to have substance use disorders.

The cost calculator combines results from the 2015 to 2018 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health with the latest research on the costs of mental health problems for employers.

Click here to listen to WorkCare’s webinar on Nurturing Mental Fitness and Neuro-wellness in the Workplace.

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