In the United States, May is mental health awareness month; in Canada, the first week of May is designated for this. In both cases, these annual initiatives help to generate significant awareness about mental health, mental illness and stigma, which is incredibly important. However, in order to truly end the stigma surrounding mental illness we need to maintain our efforts year-round – and take action.
The Four Realities of Mental Illness and Stigma in Your Workplace
The reason companies need continued efforts is the combined impact of the four realities of mental illness and stigma in the workplace. Most companies are either unaware of the existence of these four realities, or don’t fully realize the impact they are having.
With that in mind, I am sharing the following 20 stats over the next 20 days on social media to help keep these four realities top of mind. With more and more great research and data available, we can really quantify the existence and impact of these realities:
Mental Illness is Common
More and more workplaces are realizing that mental illness is a very real and prevalent challenge, however very few fully grasp how common it is.
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. 
- Global rates of depression and anxiety have increased 15% to 20 percent during the last decade. 
- Among employees with a mental health issue, 42% have come to work with suicidal feelings. 
- 62 percent of missed work days can be attributed to mental health conditions. 
- 12 billion workdays lost each year due to mental illness. 
Stigma is Present in Your Workplace
As the previous stats show, it is undeniable that some of your employees are facing a mental illness – either currently or in the future. And they are all facing stigma.
You may have a high-functioning, positive work environment with exceptionally high morale, but that doesn’t mean you are a stigma-free workplace. The stigma of mental illness is a complex and deep-seated mindset that our society currently sets us up to have, and there are people on your teams who have stigmatized thoughts towards mental illness, unless you have specifically addressed it with training.
- 98% of respondents agree that people with a mental illness are stigmatized and discriminated against. 
- 61% of employees feel there is a social stigma in the workplace toward colleagues with mental health issues. 
- Nearly half of both employees (49%) and HR professionals (48%) feel the stigma has stayed about the same or worsened in the previous five years. 
- 55% of employees with depression would not disclose their illness to their manager. 
- 81% of employees said the stigma associated with mental health issues prevents employees from seeking help. 
It is Costing You Money
There is no doubt that the combination of mental illness and the stigma surrounding it is costing your company in lost profits. And every day you don’t address the one thing you have control over – the stigma surrounding mental illness and how your culture responds when mental illness arises – it will cost you even more. These losses come in the form of presenteeism (when someone tries to work through a mental illness out of fear of disclosure, inevitably resulting in lost productivity), difficulty securing and retaining top talent, lowered workplace morale and more.
Given the high costs associated with mental illness stigma in your workplace, there is an ROI to eliminating it.
- The estimated global cost of mental disorders in 2010 was $2.5 trillion. Of that total, $1.7 trillion (68%) was due to indirect costs (lost productivity from absenteeism and presenteeism) and $0.8 trillion (32%) was due to direct costs. 
- $925 billion: the annual cost, in US dollars, of the 12 billion workdays lost each year due to mental illness. 
- $148 billion: the annual cost to the US economy in both direct and indirect costs (such as lost productivity). 
- The estimated annual current cost of depression to employers in the United States is $105 billion. 
- The annual cost of depression is expected to rise to a staggering $6.1 trillion by 2030. 
There is Something You Can Do About It
The challenge of workplace mental illness and stigma may seem daunting, but there is something you can do about it. While mental illness can be treated, stigma can be cured. In order to cure stigma in your workplace, you need to provide the education, tools and resources your employees, managers, HR personnel and leaders need to fully understand and improve their response to this complex challenge.
- Nearly 9 in 10 survey respondents agree that employers have a responsibility to support mental health. 
- Only 16 percent of HR professionals felt confident their managers were properly trained on how to identify employees who may be experiencing mental illness. 
- 66% of managers reported not having training to intervene when employees show signs of depression. 
- 40 percent want their employers to train managers and supervisors to identify emotional distress among workers. 
- One US-based study of a company with 198 employees saw a 302% ROI over a 2-year period after initiating programs to reduce workplace stigma towards mental illness. 
For further information, statistics and resources on this topic, you may wish to read the article Mental Health at Work: Stats and Trends published on ChoosingTherapy.com; this article was written by an experienced HR professional and reviewed by a medical doctor.
At StigmaZero, our vision is for a future without stigma and our mission is to help employers eliminate stigma in the workplace. To achieve this mission, we offer our innovative Create Your StigmaZero Workplace online program which is designed to create real, lasting impact on your company’s ability to manage mental illness and stigma.
If you would like to learn more about how your company can better respond to workplace mental illness and stigma, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website at www.stigmazero.com.
1. World Health Organization (World Health Report)
2. Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis (American Heart Association CEO Roundtable)
3. Strong Minds at Work: The 2019 Unum Mental Health Report
6. A StigmaZero Workplace Pays in Profits (Whitepaper)
7. World Health Organization (Investing in Mental Health)
8. Workplace Strategies for Mental Health
Founder, Author & Instructor of the Create Your StigmaZero Workplace Program
I founded StigmaZero to help employers address the complex and challenging reality of mental illness stigma. We offer companies an innovative solution: our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace online program, which is designed to eliminate the negative impacts that stigma can have on your culture as well as the cost of lost productivity. This program creates real, lasting impact on your company’s ability to manage mental illness and stigma.