Mental illness trickles into every facet of life. In some workplace scenarios, the effects are deadly. Like when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz flew the Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside, killing himself and 149 people on board. Lubitz had a documented history of depression and suicidal tendencies. Or when Jennifer Sanmarco shot and killed five people and herself at a Goleta California mail-processing plant. Sanmarco had a history of bizarre behavior and psychological problems.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):
- One in five American adults (ages 15-64) will experience a diagnosable mental health condition like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress
- 70 percent of people suffering from mild to moderate mental illness report struggling and being less productive at work
- 30 to 50 percent of new sickness and disability claims are from mental health issues
- May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in partnership with the Office of Disability Employment Policy, have provided employee assistance programs to at risk employees. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provide counseling and referrals to help employees address personal problems that might adversely impact their job performance.
“Whether through an EAP or a less formal method, supporting the mental health needs of workers is good for employees, employers and society at large,” said Elena Brown, special assistant with the Office of Disability Employment Policy.