Laura is a 33-year-old customer service representative working in a large call center. Shes struggling under pressures of the job and feeling a general sense of stress and anxiety because of long hours, a rigid work environment and pressures at home. Without access to a mental health professional, Laura may be at risk for developing a stress-related disability.
Lauras situation is not unique. Today, psychiatric conditions account for about 7% of short-term and 11% of long-term MetLife group disability claims. In stressful work environments such as call centers, the percentage of psychiatric claims can nearly double.
Depression, stress and anxiety also account for a significant amount of co-morbidity in other short- and long-term disability claims. As a result, employees suffering from conditions such as cancer, pregnancy, cardiac disease and lower back conditions often experience prolonged disability duration because of psychiatric co-morbidity.
These are frightening statistics for employers and employees alike. Disability-related absences can be enormously expensive for employers, exacting a toll on productivity and revenue. As staffing at many companies continues to shrink, employers need help managing disability-related absences now more than ever.
First, employers need to understand what drives mental health claims. One common culprit is job stress and/or dissatisfaction. Job settings that have higher levels of stress or higher levels of conflict (such as companies with rigid controls or pending layoffs) witness spikes in psychiatric-related STD claims overall. Claims are typically more prevalent among businesses in the service sector than in manufacturing.
The peak age group at risk for these claims is 35 to 55 years of age. White-collar workers are far more prone to these claims than blue-collar workers. Psychiatric-related STD claims are no more common in women than in men.