Here’s why companies should focus on their workers’ “whole health”

Twenty years ago, many employers did not consider the impact of tobacco in the worksite.  Ten years ago, we struggled with obesity as a condition that could be addressed with strategies and tools that improved lives and productivity.  Today, we are realizing we can take on whole health by tackling behavioral and emotional health issues.

The truth is, mental and physical health are connected and managing just one aspect of health, while neglecting the other, doesn’t adequately address the goal of improving overall well-being. Many people with chronic health conditions also suffer from behavioral health disorders as well. Health care costs for treating people with both kinds of conditions can be two to three times higher than for those individuals without co-morbid mental health and substance use conditions.

Poor mental health can not only lead to poor physical health, but can also impact employee performance as well. Eighty percent of people suffering from depression reported some level of functional impairment because of their depression, and 27 percent reported serious difficulties in work and home life, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In a three-month period, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity. Those lost work days can cost employers as much as $44 billion annually.

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