Uncovering the Link Between Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder in the Workplace

By |Published On: February 7th, 2024|

By Cassandra Cousineau
Manager, Strategic Content and Engagement, GoMo Health

Mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) are two major health concerns that individuals face in their daily lives. Unfortunately, they are often interwoven in a complex dance, forming an unhealthy cycle that can be detrimental to an individual’s well-being. This cycle can be particularly harmful in the workplace where employees are expected to function at an optimal level. Understanding the “why” is crucial to comprehend how the two affect the collective workforce. 

The Nexus Between Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder
Individuals facing mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression may turn to substance use as a coping mechanism. While these substances may seem to provide temporary relief from emotional pain, they often forge a perilous path toward addiction.

Tattooed bearded worker in overalls having hard day on the work. Storage of import and export firm interior.

Implications of SUD on the Workplace
The workplace is a microcosm of society, and the interplay between mental health and SUD has significant repercussions for both employees and employers, including: 

  • Decreased Productivity: Employees grappling with mental health issues or SUD in the workplace often experience reduced productivity. A 2022 Gallup Panel estimated that missed workdays due to poor mental health cost an average of $340 for full-time workers and $170 for part-time workers. Further, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates missed time due to SUD costs employers an estimated $10 billion annually. These employees may have difficulty concentrating, meeting deadlines, and attending work regularly. This decreased efficiency affects individual job performance as well as overall company productivity. 
  • Absenteeism and Presenteeism: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that serious mental illness results in more than 200 million lost workdays each year in the US due to absenteeism. Moreover, presenteeism, where employees are physically present but mentally absent, produces subpar work quality. 
  • Safety Concerns: In industries where safety is paramount, substance use can pose significant risks. Impaired judgment and coordination due to substance use can lead to accidents and jeopardize the well-being of employees and others. 
  • Stigma and Hesitancy to Seek Help: Stigma surrounding mental health and SUD can deter employees from seeking help. Many fear judgment or potential repercussions from their employers, leading them to continue to suffer in silence.
  • Increased Healthcare Costs: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) emphasizes that investing in mental health services improves employee well-being and yields a significant return on investment, with every $1 spent on mental health treatment saving $4 in healthcare costs. Offering comprehensive health benefits that include mental health support can be a proactive measure to address these issues.

Male Medical Worker In Hospital Addicted To Using Mobile Phone At Work

BehavioralRx®: Hope for Positive Mental Health in the Workplace 
We believe every employee deserves access to quality mental health support, and we are committed to making this a reality. BehavioralRx is our behavioral and cognitive science of precision health that has proven to increase human resiliency. One way we help those affected by mental health challenges and SUD is to empower individuals to seek help confidentially and conveniently, dismantling the barriers of stigma and accessibility. Specifically, through Recovery Pathways: Workplace, BehavioralRx has played a pivotal role in addressing mental health in the workplace.

BehavioralRx is making a tangible difference in  the workplace and beyond: 

  • Accessibility: User-friendly access to mental health and SUD resources, fostering a healthier workplace. 
  • Confidentiality: Prioritizes privacy, empowering employees to seek support without judgment. 
  • Customized Care Plans: Promoting faster recovery and return to work. 
  • Integration With Recovery Pathways: Workplace: BehavioralRx seamlessly integrates with our recovery-friendly workplace product, to enhance employee and employer well-being. 
  • Real-Time Progress Monitoring: A platform that enables real-time tracking of treatment effectiveness, ensuring better outcomes. Consistent engagement and support are essential. 
  • Education and Resources: Extensive educational resources, empowering employees to seek help and reducing stigma. 

The link between mental health and SUD in the workplace is deep and complex, and it warrants attention from employers and employees alike. Recovery Pathways is a life-changing program that addresses SUD at every stage, from prevention to management. With personalized support, the program creates a recovery-ready workplace for employees and employers to feel seen, heard, and psychologically safe. It’s a win-win scenario that paves the way for a healthier, happier, and more successful workforce, aligning perfectly with the GoMo Health commitment to creating recovery friendly workplaces.

To learn more about the benefits of a recovery-ready workplace and how to create a workforce of happier, healthier employees, view our latest case study booklet.

View Case Study Booklet
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