BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Behavioral health survey results

The Behavioral Health Board conducted a voluntary, anonymous, online survey of members of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce last summer. Questions assessed behavioral health issues in the workplace and the need for programs to meet local needs.

The 44 respondents varied by employer type and workforce size. They included commercial businesses (28), nonprofit organizations (8), educational institutions (3), and government agencies (4). Full-time equivalent workforce sizes ranged over small (1-25), medium (26-50), and large (over 50). Commercial businesses were small (15), medium (7), or large (6). Nonprofit organizations were small (5), medium (1), or large (2). Educational institutions were large (3). Government agencies were small (2) or large (2).

Many respondents had trouble hiring, managing, or retaining employees due to use or misuse of various substances, both legal and illegal. Most had issues with employee job performance due to a variety of personal, family, and other reasons. A majority had observed behaviors in their workplaces that suggest the possibility of mental illnesses among their employees. Many had negative impacts of behavioral health issues on productivity, profitability, safety, absenteeism, turnover, and costs of hiring, training, healthcare, and insurance. Some Employee Assistance Program services are currently available for employees and family members of some respondents, and additional services may be needed.

Sixteen respondents had trouble hiring needed workers within the past three years due to failure of pre-employment drug test (6), unacceptable driving record (5) or background check (8) due to abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other substances, or other reasons (8), such as a lack of applicants with adequate job skills, work motivation, or willingness to relocate.

Eighteen respondents had issues with employee job performance within the past three years due to use or misuse of tobacco (8), alcohol (10), prescription drugs (10), illegal drugs (7), or other substances (1).

Thirteen respondents had employees who were fired or left of their own accord within the past three years due to use or misuse of tobacco (2), alcohol (7), prescription drugs (8), or illegal drugs (9).

Thirty-four respondents had issues with employee job performance within the past three years due to illness (26), disability (9), childcare (13), eldercare (5), other family issues (20), gambling (2), legal issues (5), financial issues (8), housing issues (1), transportation (9), or other reasons (5), such as tardiness, absenteeism, excessive sick leave, dress code, and government benefits.

Next the survey asked about issues with employee job performance within the past three years due to behaviors that characterize mental disorders. This question provided short descriptions of the most common categories of mental illness in the United States, adapted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website (SAMHSA.gov). It asked about behaviors that employers may have observed in the workplace, not actual diagnoses of mental disorders.

Thirty respondents had observed behaviors that characterize mental disorders within the past three years, and fourteen had not. Mental illnesses possibly observed by respondents included disruptive, impulse control, or conduct disorders (15), attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (14), anxiety disorders (12), bipolar disorders (9), trauma- and stressor-related disorders (9), depressive disorders (8), obsessive-compulsive disorders (2), and schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders (2).

Then the survey asked employers to rate the negative impact of behavioral health issues in their workplaces during the past three years. Seven respondents rated its impact on productivity as significant or major and 25 rated it as some or minor. Its impact on profitability was not so salient as productivity, possibly due to inclusion of nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies among respondents in these analyses.

Six respondents rated behavioral health issues as a significant or major impact and 12 rated it as some or minor impact on safety of the employee. Three respondents rated it as a significant or major impact and 14 rated it as some or minor impact on safety of other employees.

Fifteen respondents rated behavioral health issues as a significant or major impact and 15 rated it as some or minor impact on absenteeism. Seven respondents rated it as a significant or major impact and 11 rated it as some or minor impact on turnover. Four respondents rated it as a significant or major impact and 10 rated it as some or minor impact on hiring costs. Five respondents rated it as a significant or major impact and 13 rated it as some or minor impact on training costs.

Seven respondents rated behavioral health issues as a significant or major impact and 12 rated it as some or minor impact on healthcare costs.

Five respondents rated it as a significant or major impact and 13 rated it as some or minor impact on insurance costs.

The last question listed 10 Employee Assistance Program services and asked whether they are currently available for employees and their covered family members or needed for employees and family members. Respondents said some services are currently available, and additional services may be needed.

James Raney is a member of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board. Behavioral Health Matters appears on the Opinion page on the last Saturday of the month.