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This is the first in a series of posts in May to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health America’s website atimages http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may   has scores of ideas to help you make  people more aware about the importance of good mental health.

In a new study, researchers from the University at Albany SUNY discovered that although many adults do not have a formal psychiatric diagnosis, they still have mental health symptoms that interfere with full participation in the workforce.

The investigators believe interventions are necessary to assist employees who meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness and for those with sub-clinical levels of symptoms.

For instance, cases of undiagnosed depression and anxiety often cause insomnia and emotional distress, conditions that increase absenteeism and presenteeism (“working” but not being very engaged in one’s job), thereby lowering productivity.

The analysis used a novel statistical modeling approach that captured the effects of mental health symptoms in individuals, whether or not they had clinically diagnosed psychiatric disorders. Patients with mental health issues are usually treated according to their symptoms, rather than any diagnosis. Social Security and other disability programs with skyrocketing enrollments also focus less on diagnosis and more on individuals’ capacity for work.

The results show that many Americans who don’t meet diagnostic criteria still have mental health symptoms that interfere with their work. From a research standpoint, the authors suggest that considering non-diagnosed people as “healthy” is likely to underestimate the true impact of mental health symptoms on the workforce.

Additional sources: Wolters Kluwer Health via Psych Central.