Research

Prevalence of Adult Mental Health Disorders


Nearly 1 out of 2 U.S. citizens (46.4%) experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime. During any given 12-month period, more than one-quarter (26.2%) of the population reports having a mental health problem. It is easy to conclude therefore, that mental health should be a major issue in the workplace. However, Fortune 500 business consistently report less than 1% of their workforce suffers from a mental health problem. This is despite the fact that mental health issues rank second only to cardiac disease and is one of the top causes of absenteeism, sick leave and under-performance in workers. The fact that only one-third (36.0%) of those requiring treatment, actually receive mental health care, helps to explain, in part, the significant under-reporting of mental health problems within the workforce and the under performance of many of these workers.

Institute staff have examined the prevalence of disability in new hires across several work settings and industry types. Recent hires in quick-service restaurants, hospitality and advanced manufacturing companies all had significantly higher rates of disability than anticipated. Seventy-five percent of the new hires in four McDonald’s restaurants were found to qualify for Work Opportunity Tax Credits and VR services due to significant work challenges and/or history of disability. Forty percent of workers with a Starwood hotel establishment and twenty-five percent of apprenticeship employees within a Shipbuilding company were deemed VR eligible. None of these individuals were enrolled in VR services and few received or even recognized the extent to which their disability impacted their work performance. Business owners and managers were equally surprised to learn of the extent to which their workforce was eligible for support services.

At the Institute, we are committed to developing more reliable and valid measures and procedures for assessing the prevalence of disability in the workforce. If you are interested in joining us in this venture please contact us.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults

Obesity is a common, serious and costly problem. Although it is not a disability per se, it is often regarded as one by many employers who perceive obesity as a lifestyle choice. Obesity is nonetheless, related to various life threatening physical health disorders including heart-disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The fact that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) self-report as obese means that the management of obesity within the workplace is an increasing challenge. Along with other lifestyle choices (e.g., smoking, drinking) and physical disorders (e.g., use of a prosthetic devise) obesity raises concerns about the need for facility or equipment modifications, health insurance costs, supervisory expectations and reasonable work schedule and work task accommodations. Managing these issues within the workforce requires knowledge, resources and skills.

Disability management and/or Wellness programs are increasingly being introduced into the workplace to help employers deal with these issues. However, there is a dearth of research on the impact of these programs on workplace performance and worker’s behavioral change of chronic health conditions. If you are interested in developing and/or studying a disability management and/or wellness programs within your workplace, contact the Institute today.

State-based Prevalence Data of ADHD Diagnosis (2007-2008)

Greater public awareness, increased availability of special education and early intervention programs and enhanced diagnostic sensitivity has led to a significant rise in learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders in the U.S. population over the past twenty years. Prevalence rates vary substantially across the United States ranging from 5.6% to 15.6%. Rates vary also by the method used to collect this information. For example, while only 3% – 7% of school aged children are reported by the U.S. Department of Education to be diagnosed with ADHD, community samples of parents report prevalence rates of over 9%. Learning disabilities, which are often more difficult to diagnosis are presumed to be even more common. Experts suggest that individuals scoring in the 25th percentile in reading and/or math on standardized tests are likely to have a learning disability.

Persons with learning disabilities make up the largest percentage of individuals receiving services from public vocational rehabilitation agencies. What this means to the business community is that there are significant numbers of workers entering the workforce that require compensatory learning strategies and accommodations to help maximize productivity. However, managerial and supervisory training often does not include instruction on how best to supervise, no less identify, this type of workforce. Unfortunately, undiagnosed and untreated learning disabilities often lead to poor job performance, poor job attendance, early job termination, and frequent job turnover.

If you are interested in participating in an Institute study of the impact of management skills training on the performance of your workforce that includes individuals with learning disabilities, contact the Institute today. We will be very happy to develop a study suited to your particular workforce needs!

Food Stamps Usage Map

Being poor is not a disability but disability is more likely within families of poverty. This is due to several reasons, most prominently the higher incidence of untreated ailments that become disabling conditions and greater exposure to environmental toxins that are linked to disability. Unfortunately, since the Great Recession of 2007, an increasing percentage of the U.S. population has fallen below the poverty line and is relying on food stamps. Recent estimates suggest that 15% or 1 in 7 families are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Several states have rates of 1 in 5 families (20%) on food stamps including Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oregon and Louisiana.

A recent study conducted by Institute staff found that 80% of the workers eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) were also qualified for vocational rehabilitation services due to a disabling condition, most notably, learning disabilities and emotional problems. In this particular sample, being a recipient of food stamps was the primary reason for qualifying for the WOTC.

Businesses interested in studying the prevalence of disability within their WOTC eligible workforce should contact the Institute.

Impaired Physicians

The prevalence of impairment within the U.S. population at any given point in time, has been conservatively estimated to be about 20% (Brault, 2012). Contrary to belief, professionals are no less susceptible to disability than the general population. In fact, professionals within the medical and/or allied-health fields may be at greater risk than the general population for substance abuse and other types of addictions due to the access they have to addictive substances. Also, there is an increasing trend for professionals to work past retirement age, and in so doing they increase the chances of becoming work-impaired while practicing.

Denial of a problem is a common obstacle to treatment. This is perhaps even more prevalent among professionals who tend to pride themselves on their competence and care taking responsibilities. They often disregard their own needs at their own peril and their patients. While professional associations (e.g., licensing boards) are increasingly instituting monitoring and wellness programs for their constituents, most programs are only superficially meeting the needs of the professional community.

In a review of the outcome literature related to monitoring programs and information obtained from award winning monitoring programs, it seems only a very small fraction of professionals receive help from these monitoring programs. Our best efforts to quantify the participation rate of professionals within monitoring programs is about 1%. This is in contrast to estimates of over 10% of professionals that may need such assistance.

If you are interested in working with the Institute to evaluate alternative methods for professional organizations and associations to deliver better services to its constituents, please contact us.