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Depression Costs the Global Economy $1 Trillion Annually

December 5, 2023 from HRD Canada


Alarming evidence of the widespread effects of depression on the world economy has been provided by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who also highlighted the enormous financial burden this mental health issue places on society.


Murthy issues a sobering warning, pointing out that depression alone costs a staggering $1 trillion a year, as reported by Fortune. He further highlights the complex relationship between loneliness, social isolation, and the increasing incidence of depression as health officials step up their focus on the growing loneliness epidemic.


According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 280 million adults worldwide—or 5% of the population—struggle with depression, a mental illness that negatively impacts many aspects of daily life, including sleep, appetite, decision-making, focus, time management, and social interactions.


Dr. Murthy stresses the significance of this financial cost and goes on to say that this estimate does not account for the extra financial costs connected with anxiety and other physical ailments brought on by isolation and loneliness.


The WHO lists the following as potential workplace hazards to mental health:


  • Understaffing, heavy workloads, unsociable or rigid hours, underuse of abilities or being underskilled for the job
  • Inadequate control over workload or job design dangerous or unfavourable physical working circumstances
  • A corporate culture that condones bad behaviour
  • Insufficient assistance from coworkers or authoritarian oversight aggression, intimidation, or mistreatment prejudice and marginalization
  • Uncertain about job role
  • Clashing demands between work and home life
  • Under- or overpromotion
  • Job insecurity, low compensation, or inadequate career development investment


Dr. Murthy has provided strategic advice outlining methods that employers might proactively support their employees’ mental health in response to the rising rates of mental health difficulties and loneliness. According to him in Fortune, creating a welcoming and inclusive work atmosphere that addresses mental health concerns and loneliness rather than making them worse is essential for success in the job.


In addition to raising employee engagement and satisfaction, a healthy workplace environment also helps to boost productivity. “Our mental health is the fuel that allows us to show up in our life, at work, and at home in our communities,” emphasizes Dr. Murthy, highlighting the complex connection between mental well-being and general productivity. He observes that mental health issues have a substantial influence on absenteeism, engagement, productivity, and retention at work.


In order to assist employee mental health, Dr. Murthy suggests five major pillars employers should focus on:


  1. Keep employees safe
  2. Encourage relationships and communities
  3. maximize harmony between work and life
  4. Provide employees with growth opportunities
  5. Assure staff members that they and their work are important.


Dr. Murthy highlights in Fortune the necessity for executives to give employees’ mental health support top priority, particularly in the age of the pandemic and remote work, noting the numerous benefits that could result from doing so. Recognizing that happy workers are essential to a business’s profitability, he calls for businesses to see mental health support as a duty that will benefit the company as well as the community at large.





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