A national survey done by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) showed that workers are hesitant to seek treatment for mental health issues.1 Reasons cited included concerns about confidentiality or fears of loss of status in the workplace.
Almost 40% of respondents indicated that their employers were supportive of workers who sought treatment for health problems, but barriers persist for patients with mental health concerns. Of the 1129 respondents, 76% believed their careers would be damaged by seeking treatment for drug addiction, 73% for alcoholism, and 62% for depression, compared with 55% for diabetes and 54% for heart disease.
Dr Alan Axelson, chair of the APA’s Partnership for Workplace Mental Health advisory council, said employers should create an environment that encourages people to take care of their physical and mental health because healthy, happy employees are more productive.
The Partnership offers several suggestions to employers. Workplaces should promote prevention and wellness programs by, for example, holding health fairs, providing healthy meals and snacks at meetings, encouraging exercise, and promoting a balance between employees’ work and home lives. Managers lead by example by taking care of their own physical and mental health. Employers should also issue reminders of available health benefits and programs, make sure their workers know how to access care, and reassure concerned employees that all information about their treatment, especially for mental health issues, will be held in strict confidentiality.