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Commentary: Ignoring mental health needs comes with an economic cost

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Most companies in Wichita probably have a good idea of what it costs them when an employee misses a day of work. But do you know how mental health impacts your bottom line when your staff does show up? “Presenteeism” occurs when employees dealing with a death in the family, the slow crumble of a marriage, or some other major event in their lives, continue to show up for work when they are clearly not in a mental place to do their jobs well. The resulting loss of productivity is estimated to cost Wichita businesses and companies $300 million each year, or more than $900 per employee.

You might think these sorts of mental health concerns would keep employees from coming to work at all, thereby avoiding this expense. But studies have shown just how unlikely it is for an employee to admit needing to miss work for a mental health concern, to the point they would rather admit to being in jail than to acknowledge their need for mental health care.

This lack of transparency and openness surrounding mental health not only perpetuates the stigma that keeps 60,000 Wichitans every year from getting the help they need, but also continues to exacerbate a costly loss of workplace productivity that unnecessarily drains financial resources from our economy. Please consider partnering with your local mental health non-profits in addressing this vital need throughout south central Kansas.

Links to mental health resources are at kmuw.org. This series on Mental Health is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.