Wellness: The Physical and Emotional Health Connection

September 20, 2016

Employee Wellness

Several key trends are having a big impact on the success of worksite wellness. The holistic wellness approach is one of these trends and includes addressing the expanded dimensions of health to include emotional health, financial wellness, sleep and stress management and resiliency. Wellness programs continue to have a significant impact on employee health and well-being. But with the pace of rapid change in this arena it is challenging to keep your program current and to stay a step ahead of the curve.

Consider these statistics:

  • 49% of employees lose one or more hours of productivity a week due to stress
  • 33% experience insomnia several times per week
  • Behavioral health accounts for $135 billion of the $1.85 trillion spent on healthcare every year, almost as much as heart disease and cancer treatment combined.

By 2020, mental health disorders including substance abuse will surpass all physical diseases as the leading cause of disability.

Strong wellness programs focus on whole health.  Whole health includes self-care, professional care, and community (work/home) components, not just the single aspect of physical health. There are many factors that encompass wellness and many barriers that prevent individuals from making lasting behavior changes to improve their overall health and well-being.  In many cases, to address physical health, we often have to address mental health first. At Interactive Health, we have a collected data for the last decade that demonstrates the strength of  this physical/emotional health connection. Our data shows that when individuals go from low risk to high risk for physical health, the prevalence for emotional distress jumped by about 65%.  

Five key health conditions that had the highest correlation with emotional distress were:

  • metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • alcohol consumption
  • sleep apnea

The conditions that are very compelling and go beyond just the biometric results are  the lifestyle choices. The prevalence of emotional distress almost doubles in those with excessive drinking habits, and is almost a seven times higher for those with sleep apnea.

It’s time to address these trends and implement well programs such as Total Well-Being EAP and provide employees with additional access to wellness care.