The prevalence of mental illness is tremendous; The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences any mental illness in a year, and 1 in 25 adults in the United States experiences a major mental illness seriously interfering in major life activities. Americans suffering with serious mental illnesses die an estimated 25 years mostly due to treatable conditions. The consequences of major mental illness are not limited to the affected individual; serious mental illnesses cost the United States $193.2 billion a year.
These mental health illnesses impact every facet of an individual’s life, including employment. Researchers at Cornell University's Institute for Health and Productivity Studies estimate that for each employee, U.S. employers lose approximately $348/year due to depression, sadness and other mental illnesses. This also contributes to the estimate that mental illness is the third highest economic burden to American employers. This high burden of mental illnesses sheds light on the importance of companies and employers investing in mental health and providing employees with mental health sick days.
An increase in awareness of mental illness and the serious impact it has on students, workers, and the wallets of Americans is essential. Mental health sick days should be implemented in all institutions to reduce prevalence of and stigma towards mental illness. While Madalyn Parker and Ben Congleton have paved the way for an open discussion on mental health sick days, there needs to be more conversations between institutions and their employees.
For Emory students who are not yet in the workforce, there are various mental health services on campus. Emory Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPs) provides free stress reduction classes, couples and group counseling, individual consultations as well as educational workshops. They are located on the 2nd floor of the Biology Building (1462 Clifton Road). The Emory HelpLine is an anonymous telephone hotline that provides remote counseling. The HelpLine number is (404) 727-4357. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours everyday, and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.