The Silent Tsunami:
Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
PRESENTED BY VALISHA EDWARDS, LMSW
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and Stress
in the Workplace
Mental health issues and stress are a silent
tsunami in the workplace, one that could engulf
organizations in a myriad of productivity and
profitability problems as well as legal liabilities
unless mental health and stress are addressed
as seriously as marketing, compensation and
strategic plans.
Persistent Mental Illness and Stress in the
Workplace:
Consider these names: Abraham Lincoln… Theodore
Roosevelt… Winston Churchill….Alexander Hamilton.
Now ask yourself these two questions.
1. What characteristic did these men have in common?
2. If offered the opportunity, would you hire them?
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
The answer to the second question is probably
“Sure, who wouldn’t?”
And the answer to the first question is a
persistent mental illness. Mental illness affects
millions of Americans, yet it remains among the
most misunderstood of all medical maladies.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
According to a US A Today report, based on
research by Harvard University Medical School,
untreated mental illness costs the US a minimum on
$105 billion in lost productivity each year. Most
organizations’ health coverage plans show that
physical ailments are covered, while mental health
problems lag far behind. Serious mental illnesses
cost society $200 billion in lost earnings per year
according to the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
In this country, mental illness is the number one cause for
disability for people 18-44 years of age. It costs employers
an estimated $44 billion in lost productivity, but it doesn’t
end there. One of five families experience mental illness.
This means many of our friends and our loved ones are
struggling undiagnosed, or fighting for recovery, and sadly
they may be facing this alone because of our ignorance or
bias. (According to Omaha.Net)
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
According to two studies, the United States has the dubious
distinction of having the highest violent crime rate of any
industrialized nation. An average of 20 workers are
murdered each week in the U. S., making homicide the
second highest cause of workplace deaths and the leading
one for females 18, 000 non-fatal violent crimes such as
sexual and other assaults occur each week while victims are
working, or about a million a year.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Is this a result of mental illness in the workplace or stress?
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
The NIOSH Report:
 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful.
 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.
 Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on the
job stress than a generation ago; 29% of workers felt quite a bit or
extremely stressed at work; 26% of workers are “often or very often
burned out or stressed by their work”
 Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than
financial or family problems.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Attitudes in the American Workplace VII
 80% of workers feel stress on the job; nearly half say they need help in learning
how to manage stress.
 42% say their co-workers need such help.
 14% of respondents had felt like striking a co-worker in the past year, but
didn’t.
 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are
concerned about an individual at work who could become violent; 9% are aware
of an assault or violent act in their workplace; and 18% had experienced some
sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Attitudes in the American Workplace VII: (continued)
65% of workers said that workplace stress has caused difficulties
and more than 10% described these as having major effects.

 10% said they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has
occurred because of job stress and in this group, 42% report that
yelling and other verbal abuse is common.
 29% had yelled at co-workers; 14% said they work where
machinery or equipment has been damaged because of workplace
rage; and 2% admitted that they had personally struck someone.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Attitudes in the American Workplace VII: (continued)
 19% (or almost one in five respondents) had quit a previous position because of
job stress and nearly one in four have been driven to tears because of work place
stress.
 62% routinely find they end the day with work related neck pain; 44% reported
stressed-out eyes; 38% complained of hurting hands; and 34% reported difficulty
sleeping because they were too stressed-out; 12% had called in sick because of
job stress; over half said they often spend 12 hours days on work-related duties
and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Americans are working longer and harder! Absenteeism due to job stress has escalated!
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
NASW (National Association of Social Work) report
Nearly 50% of the US population, ages 15-54 report having at
least one psychiatric disorder. Both severe and persistent
mental disorders, including addictions can have profound
consequences for individuals, their families and society
affecting their ability to learn, grow into healthy adults,
nurture their children, to work, to secure housing and engage
in routines of daily living.

The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
 Recognizing the prevalence of mental disorders and the cost they exact from society, Social
Workers make up the largest group of clinically trained mental health providers in the United
States.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters:
 Given that most people spend approximately 60% of their waking
hours at work (Black 2008), understanding the financial human cost
of workplace mental health can be essential to helping employees
develop an action plan for improving the bottom line and employee’s
well-being.
Many people face mental health issues during their prime working
years. Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time in
their lives. (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters: (continued)
 Mild depression, which is influenced by life stressors within and outside of the workplace, is
common and is costly to employers, given its high prevalence and high productivity loss (Allen,
Hyworn, Colombi, 2010).
 The prevalence of reported depression appears to be rising. In a 2012 workplace survey of over
6600 Canadian employees, 14% reported being currently diagnosed as clinically depressed and 8%
more believe they were suffering from depression, but had not been diagnosed. A further 16%
reported they have experienced depression in the past (Ipsos Reid, 2012). This survey did not ask
about any other mental health issues.
 According to Canadians in a 2012 study, 5.2% will experience mood disorder over one year, with
4.8% of Canadians experiencing any anxiety disorder over the same time frame. Among those with a
mood or anxiety disorder, 22% of those individuals will report at least two or more disorders in the
same year. (Xiangefei & D’Arcy, 2012).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Early identification and treatment can be important to productivity and recovery:
Mental Health Management programs in the workplace
can have a positive return on investment from the employer
perspective, but only when that is based on best practices
(Kessler, Merikangas & Wang, 2008).

 85% believe that workers with mental health conditions
can be just as productive as other workers if they have
access to the right supports (Ipsos Reid, 2012).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Early identification and treatment can be important to productivity and recovery: (continued)
 Not
addressing mental health issues early can adversely affect the
rate of mental health disability claims and their duration (American
Psychiatric Association, 2006).
 Depression does not necessarily have to lead to disability in a
supportive work environment. A recent review by McIntyre, Liauw
and Taylor (2012) indicates that 50% or more of working individuals
with depression will not seek short-term disability at any point of
their work life.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Reasonable accommodations of mental health issues at work makes good business sense:
 The
costs for providing reasonable mental-health-related
accommodations are often fairly low, with most costs well under
$500 per person per year (U.S. Department of Labor, Office of
Disability Employment Policy, 2007).
 If individuals with mental illness are able to receive treatment
early, disability leave, which costs companies $18,000 per episode
may be avoided (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Stigmas may be a barrier to productivity and/or effective treatment:
 Employers are perceived to be less accommodating of those experiencing mental health –related
issues compared to those with physical health-related issues (Ispsos Reid, 2012).
 83% of employees believe they have a responsibility to self-identify if they have a mental illness but,
31% felt their direct supervisor would not be understanding or supportive if they did so (Ispsos Reid,
2012).
 Stigma within the community among healthcare and vocational rehabilitation workers in the
workplace, and internalized stigmas have been sited to cause 70% misdiagnosis rate (Nielson, 2010).
 Even though behaviors and medication side effects can be visible, mental illness is often described
as an invisible disability and these traits may be assumed as personal characteristic (Brohan,
Henderson Wheat et al, 2012).
 Experiences of discrimination and expectations for further discrimination were the most significant
factor preventing workers from reporting or disclosing their mental illness to the workplace (Brohan,
Henderson Wheat et al, 2012).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Management approaches can impact mental health:
 4 in 5 managers/supervisors believe it is part of their job to intervene with an employee who is
showing signs of depression (Ispsos Reid, 2012).
 Only 1 in 3 managers reported having training to intervene with employees who are showing
signs of depression, but 55% of supervisors reported having intervened (Ispsos Reid, 2012).
 65% of managers/supervisors say they could do their job more effectively if they found ways to
more easily manage distressed employees (Ispsos Reid, 2012).
 63% of managers/supervisors would like to receive training to deal with this type of situation
and 43% would like to receive more support from upper management.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Advantages of promoting psychological health and safety in the workplace:
 Early, regular and sensitive contact with employees during
sickness absences can be a key factor in enabling an early
return to work (Black, 2008).
 Increased job stress, low job control and lower job
satisfaction are associated with higher turnover.
Addressing job-related stress can help retain skilled workers
(Olesent, Butterworth & Rogers, 2012).
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
Treatment Models Used:
 Solution Focused Therapy
 NASW –The Mental Health Recovery Model
 Group Therapy
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
References
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of SOCIAL WORKERS (NASW)
The American Institute of Stress
CDC Center of Disease Control and Prevention
Altshuler, L., J. Mintz and K. Leight. 2002. "The Life Functioning Questionnaire (LFQ): A
Brief, Gender-Neutral Scale Assessing Functional Outcome." Psychiatry Research 112: 16182.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
4th edition, Text Revision. 2000. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
Angst, J., M. Vollrath, K.R. Merikangas and C. Ernst. 1990. "Comorbidity of Anxiety and
Depression in the Zurich Cohort Study of Young Adults." In Comorbidity of Mood and
Anxiety Disorders (p. 123). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
References (continued)
Arnetz, B.B. and C. Wiholm. 1997. "Psychophysiological Symptoms in Modern Offices."
Journal of Psychosomatic Research 43: 35-42.
Cherniss, C. 1980. Staff Burnout. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Cook, R. and W. Sclenger. 2002. "Prevention of Substance Abuse in the Workplace: Review
of Research on the Delivery of Services." Journal of Primary Prevention 23: 115-42.
Cooper, C.L. and S. Cartwright. 1997. "An Intervention Strategy for Workplace Stress."
Journal of Psychosomatic Research 43: 7-16.
Dewa, C.S. and E. Lin. 2000. "Chronic Physical Illness, Psychiatric Disorder and Disability in
the Workplace." Social Science and Medicine 51: 41-50.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
References (continued)
Dewa, C.S., P. Goering, E. Lin and M. Paterson. 2002. "Depression-related Short-Term Disability
in an Employed Population." Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine 44: 628-33.
Dewa, C.S., J.S. Hoch, E. Lin, H. Paterson and P. Goering. 2003. "Relationship Between
Guideline-concordant Treatment of Depression and Employee Use of Short-term Disability
Benefits." British Journal of Psychiatry 183: 91-97.
Druss, B.G., R.A. Rosenheck and W.H. Sledge. 2000. "Health and Disability Costs of Depressive
Illness in a Major US Corporation." American Journal of Psychiatry 157: 1274-78.
Endicott, J. and J. Nee. 1997. "Endicott Work Productivity Scale (EWPS): A New Measure to
Assess Treatment Effects." Psychopharmacological Bulletin 33(1): 13-16.
Ewing, J.A. 1984. "Detecting Alcoholism: The CAGE Questionnaire." Journal of the American
Medical Association 252: 1905-7.
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
References (continued)
Frasure-Smith, N. and F. Lesperance. 2003. "Depression and Other Psychological Risks
Following Myocardial Infarction." Archives of General Psychiatry 60: 627-36.
Freudenberger, H.J. 1974. "Staff Burnout." Journal of Social Issues 30: 159-60.
Frone, M.R. 2000. "Work-Family Conflict and Employee Psychiatric Disorders: The National
Comorbidity Survey." Journal of Applied Psychology 85: 888-95.
Gilbody, S., P. Whitty, J. Grimshaw and R. Thomas. 2003. "Educational and Organizational
Interventions to Improve the Management of Depression in Primary Care: A Systematic
Review." Journal of the American Medical Association 289: 3145-51
The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health and
Stress in the Workplace
References (continued)
Goldberg, D.P. 1972. The Detection of Psychiatric Illness by Questionnaire. Oxford: Oxford University
Press.
Goldberg, R.J. and S. Steury. 2001. "Depression in the Workplace: Costs and Barriers to Treatment."
Psychiatric Services 52: 1639-43.
Greenberg, P.E., T. Sisitsky, R.C. Kessler, S.N. Finkelstein, E.R. Berndt, J.R. Davidson, J.C. Ballenger and A.J.
Fyer. 1999. "The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders in the 1990s." American Journal of Psychiatry 60:
427-35.
Greenfield, S.F., J.M. Reizes, K.M. Magruder, L.R. Muenz, B. Kopans and D.G. Jacob. 1997. "Effectiveness
of Community-Based Screening for Depression." American Journal of Psychiatry 154: 1391-97.
Hamilton, M. 1960. "A Rating Scale for Depression." Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
23: 56-62.
Download

The Silent Tsunami - Wales Counseling Center,PLLC