Mental illnesses affect one in five children and one in three adults in America. And at least one-fourth of all U.S. teenage girls are suffering from self-mutilation, eating disorders, significant depression or serious consideration of suicide – or are perpetrating acts of physical violence. But community leaders, parents and educators don’t know how to talk or teach about these issues properly. Shame and stigma lead to ignorance on the topics of mental health and wellness. In fact, medical professionals receive less than one day of training on these topics and don’t know how to safely address these issues with patients. This is shocking considering that mental illnesses such as eating disorders, addictions, depression, and anxiety disorders are the most preventable of all diseases.
According to the American Medical Association, lost productivity and absenteeism due to mental health complications, costs corporations $45 billion annually or $1,400 dollars per year per employee. These are costs that can be recovered by addressing the root causes of the problem through early intervention and education. Although it has been shown that firms with highly engaged, healthy, and motivated employees have market shares three times higher than firms with low engagement, only 30 percent of U.S. employees say they feel engaged at work. Corporations have tried to address these problems with exercise and physical-based wellness programs, but these do not treat the entire problem. Few companies are able to provide solid research and educational tools that decrease risk for these mental health issues, and no company measures the return on investment.