This Story May Give You Anxiety


Anxiety is expensive for U.S. employers.The amount of money companies spend on the mental health of their employees has been rising rapidly - with annual costs increasing twice as fast as all other medical expenses in recent years, according to data from Aetna Behavioral Health.

And people with mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder or substance abuse cost employers more money.They make six times as many emergency room visits as the overall population, according to benefits consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. They submit two to four times as many medical claims. People suffering from depression submit an average of $14,967 per year in claims, compared with $5,929 a year for the total population, Willis Towers Watson said.

Some employers are giving top priority to improving the costs and treatment of mental illness - on par with combating cancer, diabetes and other chronic ailments, according to a new survey of 687 companies conducted by Willis Towers Watson. Of employers surveyed, 57 percent said they plan to focus on mental and behavioral health to a great or "very great extent" over the next three years.

"We all have a point at which stress can creep into negatively impacting our overall health and wellness," said Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's Center for Workplace Mental Health. "Employers are increasingly recognizing ... the importance of taking care of health, well-being and mental health, and also the role stress, isolation, loneliness and some of these other factors can play in overall mental health and well-being."

Over the past five years, employers' behavioral health expenses have jumped by more than 10 percent annually, compared with an annual increase of 5 percent for other medical costs, according to Dr. Mark Friedlander, chief medical officer for Aetna Behavioral Health.




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