Mental health days are costing the U.S. economy billions in income growth, and that number is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years, according to a June study published in the Review of Regional Studies
Drawing upon economic and demographic data from between 2008 and 2014, researchers at Penn State University found that employees taking time off from work to deal with mental health issues — such as depression, anxiety, excessive stress, and emotional problems — was resulting in $53 billion less total income each year.
Just one poor mental health day a month was linked to a 1.84-percent drop in the per capita income growth rate.
"This starts to give us an idea of what the gain could be, if we did spend more money to help people with poor mental health," Stephan Goetz of Penn State University, who worked on the study, said in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization, both depression and anxiety are common mental disorders that can dramatically impact a person's ability to work.
Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, which is considered one of the leading causes of disability, while more than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders.
In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults over the age of 18 while major depressive disorders are experienced by more than 16.1 million American adults, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported.
Many people recognize that they may need time off to deal with mental issues, a sentiment reflected in a recent survey that found 45 percent of all full time U.S. workers felt paid time off for mental health days would help them beat burnout, according to NBC News.
However, many of those surveyed were reluctant to do so.
Researchers of this latest study suggested that the economic costs of poor mental health days be lowered by the investment of better mental health resources.
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