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About the Issue

Understanding the issue is an important step in building a mentally healthy workplace.

The Prevalence of Mental Health Conditions in America

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents a variety of facts and statistics on its “About Mental Health” webpage.

1 in 5 adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. banner: 24.9% people identifying as being two or more races that report any mental illness within the past year (more than any other race/ethnic group).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUA) Annual National Report, which found that: 

1 in 2 adults (44.1%) with substance use disorders also had a co-occurring mental illness (19.4 million). 2 in 5 adults (39.7%) with any mental illness also had a co-occurring substance use disorder(s).
  1. “Adults” is defined as people ages 18 and older.
  2. Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations (PDF), American Psychiatric Association

Why Foster a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace?

The Center for Workplace Mental Health makes a strong argument for investing in a mentally healthy workplace and the cost-effectiveness of treatment:

80% of employees treated for mental illness report improved levels of work efficacy and satisfaction.
Lower total medical costs, increased productivity, lower absenteeism, decreased disability costs.

Cost Calculators

Help your employer determine the impact of mental health conditions on health care, absenteeism and lost productivity.

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Mental Health Employer Cost Calculator

National Safety Council

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Substance Use Employer Cost Calculator

National Safety Council

Mental Health and Marginalized Communities

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“We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What is missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.”
— Kimberlé Crenshaw

Types of Mental Health Conditions and Substance Use Disorders

The Job Accommodation Network's (JAN) Mental Health Conditions webpage outlines a number of definitions and descriptions to help explain common mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Employers are encouraged to review this information to better understand these conditions and disorders.

Mental Health Impairments and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

For information about the connection between mental health impairments and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), visit the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website. According to JAN, the ADA does not have a specific list of medical conditions that qualify as disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a broad definition of disability, which requires that “an individual has a physical or mental impairment that severely limits one or more significant life activities, has a history of such an impairment, or is perceived as having an impairment.” To learn more about determining disability under the ADA, read JAN's guide, "How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).”

This broad definition of disability calls on employers to focus on ensuring employees have what they need to success in their jobs rather than whether or not the person qualifies for protections under the ADA. Regardless of whether a mental health issue or substance use disorder is classified as a disability, it is always advisable for employers to address the mental well-being of their staff and cultivate an inclusive work environment.