Mental Health: Employees Call for Better Communication

Nov. 5, 2007
Stress is having a major impact on workers and their productivity, but many employers are failing to address the issue, according to a recent national survey.

Some 94 percent of employees with medical benefits said their stress level affects job performance and 36 percent said stress affects productivity. Yet, 52 percent said their employers do not address stress, work/life balance or mental/behavioral health with employees. The findings were part of a national study of 411 employees conducted for Meritain Health and the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health.

Employees agreed that mental and behavioral health is very (75 percent) or somewhat (20 percent) important in determining overall health. In the study, 40 percent of the employees said they are not aware of what mental/behavioral health benefits are offered by their employer. Some 35 percent said they would be more likely to use their mental/behavioral health benefits if their employer did a better job of promoting them.

“These survey results illustrate the need for employers to better make the connection between untreated mental health conditions and lost productivity, offer more comprehensive mental health benefits and better promote these benefits to their employees,” said Dr. Larry Luter, chief medical officer of Meritain Health, a provider of services for self-funded health plans with headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y.

Calling wellness and behavior change “the only effective long-term solution to rising healthcare costs,” Luter added: “Wellness must equally address the body and mind to be successful, and we hope these survey results will influence employers to begin thinking about the importance of increasing their focus on the mental and behavioral health of their employees.”

Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, called efforts to open up communication about mental health between employers and employees such as Meritain Health’s “a crucial step toward improving Americans’ health and reducing lost productivity in the workplace.” Miller said employers should consider not only the prevalence and cost of mental illness, but also the availability of effective treatments.

For more information:
Meritain Health
Partnership for Workplace Mental Health

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