Landmark legislation that would make California the first state in the nation to establish voluntary mental health standards for the workplace was approved on the Senate floor Thursday by unanimous vote and moves to the Assembly with strong bipartisan backing. SB 1113, authored by Senator Bill Monning, D-Carmel, marks a bold effort to combat the stigma that still shrouds mental health in our nation and ensure mental illness is addressed with the same respect and urgency as physical illness in the workplace.
For years, employers have seen the wisdom of providing their employees with gym memberships, exercise space and nutritional snacks, having been schooled in the clear cost benefits of supporting physical well-being. SB 1113 would bring that same level of attention to supporting employee mental health.
In any given year, one in four Californians endures a mental health crisis, and yet mental health remains an uncomfortable and often unaddressed issue in many workplace settings. Research tells us that lack of attention comes at great cost for both employers and employees: Mental health issues are the single most expensive category of health costs for many employers, across all industries and sizes. The loss of employee productivity due to depression alone is estimated to cost U.S. companies as much as $44 billion per year.