One thought on “Physically There but Mentally Absent: The Cost of Ignoring Mental Health in the Workplace

  • May 25, 2018 at 3:41 am

    This is (as you obviously know) such an important topic. I wish ALL companies had policies in place to help employees who are experiencing mental health issues because the cost of NOT having such policies is higher than many people realize.
    With my situation alone, the cost on a strictly emotional level has at times been almost more than I could bear. I started as a young adult of 20 working at a retail store that was hiring part time. I enjoyed my work and was a responsible employee who never called in sick except when I had strep throat and a high fever and one other year I had the flu. Almost 4 years later, they opened several FULL TIME positions and I tried for one and got it. I was so happy–young, in my first apartment, full time job with great benefits! I was with the company about 15 years, had 4 weeks of vacation per year, medical, dental and eye care as well as 8 sick days and 4 personal days.
    However, about 4 years before the store closed its doors for good, I was hospitalized for the first time in my life due to P.T.S.D., major depression and suicidal ideation. I had missed several days of work in the prior weeks and agreed with my therapist that I would go into a treatment program before it further impacted me or my job. My medical provider wrote me a vaguely worded note asking that I be given a leave of absence for medical reasons. I was in this treatment program for 6 weeks! I believe if I’d had the courage to speak with my boss and ask for maybe 10 days off or even a week for intensive outpatient therapy, I MIGHT not have had to fly across the country and be gone for 6 weeks, costing my insurance THOUSANDS of dollars!
    But on a more personal level, due to filing a civil suit against my abuser and ending up having further issues with depression and anxiety disorder, ptsd symptoms etc., I was advised to file for disability shortly after the store closed.
    I HATE(D) it! Work was a major part of what little positive self esteem I had and yet, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t handle work. That alone was devastating to me!
    If I’d had support within the workforce, I feel that I’d be in a better place today. I absolutely understand that these companies have businesses to run and profit is the priority but without us, without the employees, they are going to LOSE productivity and profits!
    And just TRY explaining a long gap in employment when trying to re-enter the workforce! I wish I could be honest and say “I had a solid and lengthy work history but then became ill to the point of disability. I am STILL on disability but I have high and realistic hopes of getting off of it and working full time. However for the time being, I need to start part time and I need you to know that there may be times when I might need a certain day off for medical appointments and there may even be a day when I need to call in sick due to depression or high anxiety but I will make up that day and do whatever I can to minimize the impact on the company.”
    It’s a nice dream anyway…


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