Mental health problems such as depression and substance use disorders can no longer be ignored or wished away. But what is the cost to the employer and society?
With a loss of earnings due to major depression and anxiety disorders estimated at R54,121 per affected adult per year, the total annual cost to South African economy amounts to more than R40 billion (2.2% of the country’s GDP).
Furthermore, mental health problems cost the economy two to six times the cost of its treatment- yet government spends only 5% of its health budget on mental health.
Most employers tend to underestimate the financial impact of mental illness on their bottom-line. Previously, absenteeism (unscheduled absence from work) was considered a huge problem- which is true, but it is now clear that ‘presenteeism’ (attending work while unwell) is even more costly.