Mental illness linked to $10bn in lost productivity

by Sarah Megginson18 Sep 2014
Anxiety and depression are the cause of six million lost working days each year in Australia, resulting in 12 million days worth of reduced productivity, according to the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA).
Furthermore, one in four Australians will experience an anxiety disorder at some point, said Dorienne Spennato from AccessEAP, when delivering her presentation “Happy Workers = Higher Productivity” at the Safety in Action three-day trade show.
It’s an issue that all HR executives should be paying close attention to, as those workplaces with proactive mental health strategies reap the rewards, in terms of productivity and profits.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reports that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in effective workplace mental health strategies, when considering the impact of employees’ mental health conditions on productivity, participation and compensation claims.
Its research also found that these conditions cost Australian employers at least $10.9 billion every year.
PwC partner Jeremy Thorpe said investing in mental health could benefit businesses with a significant return on investment (ROI).
“For example, small mining businesses that invest in effective mental health programs receive an average ROI of 15, meaning they get $15 out of every $1 they spend,” he said.
“Any positive ROI is something business should strive for. This is why I would urge all employers, regardless of what industry you’re in or your business size… to learn what economic benefits you can gain from investing in mental health.”
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