Many companies view the challenges posed by mental illness and stigma in the workplace as either optional or last resort initiatives. Despite significant gains in awareness in recent years, mental illnesses like clinical depression or anxiety disorder are still treated far differently than physical illnesses. As a result of the confusion, isolation and lack of support created by stigma, far too many people are suffering in silence with untreated mental illnesses.
Often, employers will only respond reactively, after a crisis or when lost productivity or morale have reached unsustainable lows. By then it can be too late.
Why Employers Must Start Now
However, there is significant data that supports employers being proactive in developing their workplace culture and the soft skills of their managers in order to prepare for this challenge. Better responding to mental illness and eliminating stigma will lead to a long list of benefits, including:
- Supporting your employees
- A reduction in presenteeism
- Increased productivity
- Improved workplace morale and culture
- The ability to retain and attract top talent
For example, a recent WHO-led study estimated that for every USD $1 invested into treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of USD $4 in improved health and productivity.
There are several other examples, which can be found in a white paper I co-authored, A StigmaZero Workplace Pays in Profits – How breaking down mental illness stigma can improve your bottom line. This white paper was published in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences in 2018, and contains the results of exhaustive research into this topic.
- A study of a US-based company saw a 302% ROI over a 2-year period after initiating programs to reduce workplace stigma towards mental illness
- Another study of a UK-based company saw a 403% ROI over a 2-year period after initiating programs to reduce workplace stigma towards mental illness
- In both cases, the ROI was realized due to reductions in lost productivity that was directly related to mental illness stigma
The Cost of Doing Nothing
There are many reasons why ending mental illness stigma is a smart business decision, including the soft benefits such as improved workplace morale and supporting your employees. However, the hard ROI is also clear – and the cost of doing nothing is much greater in the long run. The companies that stand to benefit the most from the ROI available are the ones who are proactive and implement training initiatives now.
At StigmaZero, we offer companies an innovative solution: our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace online training 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.