The Roundtable was inspired by the findings of the
Harvard School of Public Health in its 1996 landmark study Global Burden of Disease in which the
growth of psychiatric illness as the leading source of human disability was vividly chronicled. Disability
is a huge business issue and once recognized as such, the impact of mental health
issues on business performance becomes readily apparent. From the Roundtables perspective,
that is the resonant importance of the Burden of Disease analysis.
The Roundtable was formed in 1998. It is not a vehicle
for fundraising or corporate advocacy. It is an instrument of information analysis and ideas concerning
the linkage between business, the economy, mental health and work. The Roundtable
consists of business, health and education leaders who have undersigned the proposition
that mental health is a business and economic issue.
This proposition hinges on four salient facts drawn
from Harvard and other studies:
- Mental health problems are driving disability
rates within the North American labor force. This represents a significant business cost and deterrent
- Depression is the leading source of disability
in the world and as a percentage of the burden of disease, it is growing faster in the global population than
cardiovascular disorders yet it remains grievously under-researched, detected, diagnosed
- The global information economy is, by definition,
an economy of mental performance. This underscores mental health in the labor force as a
critical determinant of output much like physical health was in the old industrial
- Mental health is tied closely to a variety of bodily
disorders heart disease prominently among them yet this information is neither widely
known nor deployed in defense of employee and executive health.
In this context, the Roundtable is serving a number
of goals and working objectives. This work has received an abundance of attention in the media, in health circles
and in business quarters in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
The Roundtable through its Chairman, Trilon
Financial Chairman, Tim Price last year in Washington received the first American Psychiatric Association inaugural
award for Workplace Leadership in the advancement of mental health.
Roundtable CEO Bill Wilkerson and co-author Dr. Edgardo
Perez have been acknowledged by the World Federation for Mental Health for the landmark
book MINDSETS: Mental Health The Ultimate Productivity Weapon now entering
its second printing.
The Employee Assistance Society of America this fall
reprinted a summary of the Roundtables commentary on the economic impact of mental health.
The Roundtable has a wide-ranging slate of activities
in place for 2000-2001 in support of the following goals and working objectives:
- To define the broad strategic interests of business
in mental health issues within the economy of mental performance;
- To define the global economic and competitive implications
of current trends in the growth of depression;
- To arm business and labor with non-medical tools
to help reverse present trends in the rise of depression and heart disease across a wide spectrum of the
- To promote the early detection of depression, addiction
and anxiety disorders as a principal means to reduce productivity losses and promote sustainable
- To identify and communicate business practices
which promote mental well-being at work including a focus on organizational health issues;
- To calculate and communicate incentives to simulate
business investment in mental health and design certain products and services to help
facilitate a return on these investments.