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Do Something: It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week

This week (October 5 – 9) is Mental Illness Awareness Week, as sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other agencies around the world. This is important for businesses to know because a healthy work environment, one that provides access to wellbeing resources like the Employee Assistance Program and Health Promotion, can actually help reduce risks for mental illness. Wellness champions can play a role in helping out.


Positive mental health or mental wellbeing is fundamental to worker productivity. Most business owners would understand that if an employee is greatly stressed, anxious, depressed, struggling with an alcohol problem, or preoccupied with problems in their relationships or marriage, would recognize that these will hurt that worker’s ability to function well, perform, and produce. According to recent statistics, in terms of lost productivity, here are the annual costs to business and society: Stress: $300 billion; Depression: $52 billion; Alcohol: $160.92 billion; and Prescription Abuse: $42 billion. These “big picture” numbers have direct relevance to the “small picture” of every day work in engineering firms.


In fact, according to data that collected from the health assessments done as part of the Designed Wellness initiative over the past 3 years, engineering firms tend to have very high work demands with workers who are at risk for depression and alcohol problems. This means that it is very likely that someone in your firm is struggling. This means you, as a firm leader or wellness champion have a role to play in making sure those people know that help is at hand. You can send a positive message.


CDC (2014, April 17). Excessive drinking costs U.S. $223.5 billion. Retrieved from:   

Hansen, R. N., Oster, G., Edelsberg, J., Woody, G. E., & Sullivan, S. D. (2011). Economic costs of nonmedical use of prescription opioids. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 27(3), 194-202.

Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2005). Banishing burnout: Six strategies for improving your relationship at work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

University of Michigan Depression Center. (2008) Depression and lost productivity. Retrieved from:            employers/lost-productivity/


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