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HR Tip: New tool helps build the case for investing in mental health

The National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago have created a free, new tool, the Mental Health Cost Calculator, which provides employers with data-driven insight into the costs of employee mental distress in the workplace and identifies the ways this impacts employer costs, including days of work missed and excess turnover. The calculator offers employers research-proven steps they can take to help employees and their family members.

According to the research, employers that offer mental health services for employees see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment, and that companies spend more than $15,000 on average annually on each employee experiencing a mental health issue. In addition, employees experiencing mental distress are 3.5 times more likely to have substance abuse disorders, and more likely to have reported driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

Data from Sedgwick Claims Management Inc.'s 2020 book of business showed that anxiety claims increased in every industry; the total number of anxiety claims per 1,000 employees in all sectors jumped more than 19%. The health care industry was hit particularly hard as the anxiety incidence rate increased by nearly 70%. Since the beginning of the pandemic, roughly 40% of U.S. adults have reported some symptoms of anxiety or depression compared to just 10% in the first half of 2019. The increases were most significant in the 18-29 age bracket and those with less than a high school education.

HR professionals know that anxiety among employees surged during the pandemic and have a keen awareness of mental health issues. Proactively, they can play a role in creating an environment that promotes good mental health, reduces stress and anxiety among employees, and enhances productivity.