September 11, 2009

Mental illness linked to less productivity

Addressing employee mental health can increase productivity in the workplace, researchers in Australia said.

The study of more than 60,000 employees, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found employees without symptoms of mental health problems -- having low scores on a psychological distress scale -- were the most productive workers. However, effective treatment of employees with mental health problems eventually led to productivity improving to near-normal levels after a period of low productivity during treatment.

Addressing employee mental health increases employee productivity in the workplace with the potential for a positive return-on-investment from an employer's perspective, Dr. Michael F.Hilton, the study leader, and colleagues at The University of Queensland, Australia, wrote in a statement.

The researchers said productivity was near-normal for some workers who had mental health problems -- scoring high on the distress scale -- but were not receiving treatment. The researchers suggest distressed workers may have been compensating in other ways such as working harder or longer.