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The cost of mental health at work

Content supplied by Fuel Your Life

It’s been an interesting time for everyone around the world – navigating through a pandemic, the changing social norms at home and at work, and the way we interact with family, friends and colleagues.

Needless to say, our world is ever evolving and as we move forward in our lives its crucial to consider the importance of Mental Health in our daily lives.

World Mental Health Day is October 10th; a day dedicated to raise awareness of mental health around the globe and serve as an opportunity to open up the line of communication around mental health and what needs to be done to ensure everyone around the world has access to sufficient mental health support.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, it’s important to consider how this conversation can have a positive impact in the workplace.  

Globally, more than 300 million people are living with depression and more than 260 with anxiety (and many living with both). In Australia alone 1 in 5 adults have experienced a mental health condition in the past 12 months.

This means it is more than likely that at least one of your friends, a family member and a work colleague is living with a mental health condition. Despite such an astounding statistic, what is the impact of this and why should we care?

What is the cost of mental health to individuals?

It goes without saying that living with a mental health condition will affect the quality of your life on a daily basis. It is a leading cause of disability and not only affects your mood but also your physical health.

If you live with a mental health condition you are significantly more likely to develop a preventable chronic health condition such as heart disease or diabetes, due to a range of factors such as reduced motivation to take care of your health and difficulty planning and engaging in healthcare and supports.

We also know that your mind and our body are interrelated, so it is not surprising that those living with depression, anxiety or another mental health condition are also far more likely to suffer from more frequent headaches, digestive disorders or insomnia.

Aside from the effect of a mental health condition on other aspects of health, the financial burden to an individual is also significant. This includes the cost of lost income, the cost of treatment for the mental health condition itself, as well as the cost of other necessary supports, medical care, psychological treatment and medications.

What is the cost of mental health to organisations?

A WHO led study estimates depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$1 trillion every single year in lost productivity. Within Australia, untreated depression is the cause behind a loss of 6 million working days each year.

Coupled with 12 million days of reduced productivity each year, Australian businesses are estimated to be losing over $6.5 billion each and every year without early interventions to support employees with mental health conditions.

Ultimately there is a significant financial and economic burden on Australian businesses from the combination of cost lost to absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased staff turnover, additional human resource time and potentially even litigation in some situations.

What is the Solution?

Those living with mental health conditions often require a combination of different supports as part of their treatment plan; from psychological therapy to medical management in many cases.

What is often overlooked is the impact that nutrition has on management of symptoms associated with mental health conditions. Also from a preventative standpoint when we consider that those living with mental health conditions are far more likely to subsequently develop other chronic lifelong conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes which will cause additional health and financial burden to the individual.

If you are someone living with a mental health condition yourself or running a business and would like to support your employees, our team of dietitians at Fuel Your Life would love to help you.

The cost associated with untreated/poorly treated mental health conditions far outweigh as little as $125 for a session with a dietitian. You may also be eligible for a Medicare rebate of $55.10 on each session with a valid referral from your local GP. If this is of interest, our team is always on hand to answer your questions.

As a business owner or HR director there are also additional steps you can take to support the mental health of your employees, which has been shown to also increase work performance and productivity.

Investing in your team by providing them with employee benefits programs that incorporate evidence-based nutrition - like our online Nutrition to Fuel Your Mental Health or Nutrition to Fuel Work Performance programs (as little as $49 per month) - is one way to do this.

When you compare that to the $6.5 billion lost by Australian businesses each and every year due to lack of support for employees living with a mental health condition, it would definitely be a worthy investment.

If you are an HR director or business owner and want to know what great rates we can offer you as part of World Mental Health Day to support the mental health of your team please reach out to Will and he can walk you through what would be best for you and your business.