Simply The Right Thing To Do
The impact of substance use and mental health problems on the workforce is undeniable. Here are some facts that may surprise you:
• About 39 million Americans struggle with substance use disorder (SUD).
• 75% of people battling addiction are in the workforce.
• More than 3 in 4 American employees have at least one symptom of a mental health condition.
Substance use and mental health issues are very much present in the workplace, and employees are looking for support.
Impacts on the workforce
The National Safety Council reports that workers with SUD miss more work, are more likely to leave an employer, and have higher healthcare costs. Results are similar when an employee struggles with mental health: lower productivity and morale and higher absenteeism, healthcare costs, and turnover.
And it’s not just the individual with SUD or mental illness who feels the impact of the disease. Family members also are affected, and this, too, can result in lower productivity and presenteeism and higher stress and healthcare costs.
What employers can do
Supporting employees with stress, mental illness, and substance use is simply the right thing to do. The good news: Recovery works.
Once in recovery, employees report higher life satisfaction and quality of life, and they save employers via lower absenteeism, lower hospitalization rates, and fewer doctor visits. Further, employers see a $4:$1 Return on Investment –with some reports showing as high as a $7:$1 ROI – when investing in employee mental health.
Here are some tips to get started:
• Get buy-in from company executives to support mental health programs from the top down.
• Train managers to identify and address stress, mental health, and substance use issues before they become a problem.
• Reduce stigma by making mental health and substance use a part of the corporate wellness strategy.
• Provide comprehensive support via digital tools, education, peer coaching, and care management. Make sure resources are easy to find and access, and communicate regularly about them to employees.
Though the impact of SUD and mental health on the workplace is undeniable, so is the power that employers have to make a difference in their employees’ lives. In future articles, we’ll go more in depth about what an employee support program can entail, how to recognize a workplace substance use disorder or family situation, and how to approach these topics with employees.