The Business Case for Supporting Employee Mental Health

Published on December 28, 2013

 Ask Pinoys for their understanding of mental health and for sure phrases like “sira ulo” (broken head), “baliw” (crazy), and “kulang sa turnilyo” (missing a few screws) will come up. And yes, even the well-traveled, well-educated Filipino will equate mental health with a side trip to the loony bin! It’s no wonder then that access to psychological well-being services in the Philippines remains poor. There’s a strong stigma associated with seeking psychological help in this country.

But mental health is simply an aspect of a person’s over-all health, and prioritizing mental health is no different from eating right or getting enough exercise. In fact, contrary to popular belief, mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness. Instead it’s an over-all state of well-being that creates happiness, high stress resistance, increased motivation, and improvement in perceived quality of life. It helps individuals fulfill their potentials. It facilitates healthy interpersonal relationships.

From the definition of mental health, it’s easy to deduce that mentally health workers are productive individuals who create positive work environments. And yet, companies rarely place a premium on mental health. The irony is: it doesn’t take much to prioritize psychological well-being in the workplace but it generates significant savings on the company’s bottom line. These savings are from higher work output, lower turnover rate, and reduced presenteeism. 

 Consider the following:

  • A Gallup review of well-being in the workplace studies conducted by Harter, Schmidt, and Keyes affirmed how employees who report more positive emotional symptoms have higher performance ratings.

  • The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health in UK reported how a great majority of employers seriously under-estimate the prevalence of mental health problems among their employees. Nearly half think that none of their staff will ever have a mental health problem: in fact the rate is at least one in six at any time.

  • Inadequately treated mental health conditions result in higher job-related costs and disability claims costs, as well as indirect costs from employee absence and lower productivity. For instance, 20% of the productivity of a depressed employee is lost because of poor concentration, memory lapses, indecisiveness, fatigue, apathy, and lack of self-confidence.
  • In the United States, the National Committee for Quality Assurance found that depression results in more “sick day leaves” than chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. It is estimated that depression costs American companies $23 Billion in lost work days every year.
  • A 2008 Human Solutions study report that 1 in 5 of the working age population has mental health conditions (e.g. anxiety, depression, and phobias). About 2/3 of this number would not get treatment and the 1/3 that do seek help goes to a general practitioner instead of a mental health expert. The sad thing is, many treatments are available and proven effective, but many don’t get the assistance they deserve because of lack of awareness and stigma. 
  • The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation, reported how cost-effective are mental health in the workplace programs. Nearly 86% of employees who were treated for depression with antidepressant medications reported that their work performance improved. A Harris Poll found that 80% of those treated for a mental illness reported “high levels of efficacy and satisfaction.” And the company Abbott achieved a 1.7:1 return on investment by conducting a depression screening program and providing access to resources to treat depression.

The above researches prove that there is a business case for prioritizing mental health in the workplace. Our organization, Childfam-Possibilities Psychosocial Services, is committed to helping companies --- and your valued workforce --- realize that there work and life can be more, if only psychological well-being is prioritized.

If you’d like to more about psychological well-being in the workplace, just contact Childfam-Possibilities Psychosocial Services through childfampossibilities@gmail.com, 02-4040699, and +639997677332. We would be happy to meet with you at your convenience.


Category(s):Mental Health in Asia, Workplace Issues

Written by:

Kay Vardeleon

Karen Rose "Kay" Vardeleon, RPsy is a registered psychologist and a PAP-certified specialist in Counseling Psychology. She is a co-founder of Childfam-Possibilities Psychosocial Services in Quezon City, where she holds clinic hours.

She is passionate about work with persons with mood disorders, survivors of abuse and trauma, persons with non-chemical addictions, adult children of addicts, and individuals needing inner child work.


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