Clinical depression has become one of America’s most costly illnesses. Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the US economy, costing over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs.
Depression tends to affect people in their prime working years and may last a lifetime if untreated. More than 80 percent of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off.
KNOW THE FACTS
- Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals, following only family crisis and stress.
- 3% of total short term disability days are due to depressive disorders and in 76% of those cases, the employee was female.
- In a study of First Chicago Corporations, depressive disorders accounted for more than half of all medical plan dollars paid for mental health problems. The amount for treatment of these claims was close to the amount spent on treatment for heart disease.
- annual economic cost of depression in 1995 was $600 per depressed worker. Nearly one-third of these costs are for treatment and 72% are costs related to absenteeism and lost productivity at work.
- Almost 15% of those suffering from severe depression will die by suicide.
Employee's Attitudes Towards Depression
- Often times a depressed employee will not seek treatment because they fear the affect it will have on their job and they are concerned about confidentiality.
- Many employees are also unaware they have depression or they fear their insurance is inadequate to cover costs.
- Most employers will refer a depressed employee for help if they are aware of the symptoms. 64% of NMHA Survey respondents
- said they would refer an employee to an EAP health professional.
Business Case for Workplace Wellness
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans had a diagnosable mental health condition in the last year and many others are at risk. For almost 20 years, stress-related issues in the workplace have been on the rise. What’s more, these conditions tend to strike during our most productive working years, and they are among our nation’s most disabling. The numbers are staggering. Every year, mental illness and substance abuse cost employers an estimated $80 to $100 billion in direct costs. Our mental and physical health is inextricably linked together.
TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS
- Educate employees and managers about mental health disorders, including depression
Encourage employees to seek care when they need it by educating the workforce that mental illnesses are real and can be effectively treated. Teach supervisors how to (and how not to) intervene appropriately by focusing on job performance.
- Screen for depression
Include depression screening in health risk appraisals and EAP programs. Work with health plans to incentivize clinicians to screen and ensure that appropriate systems are in place to follow up for diagnosis and treatment. Use the validated 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9, available in multiple languages and formats.
- Promote the use of employee assistance and health programs
Early intervention is key. Remind employees of the availability of resources for staying healthy and productive. Ensure that employees know how to access care confidentially and quickly by providing information on how to do so in multiple places and throughout the year. Heavily push these messages during times of stress, at the holidays, etc.
- Integrate mental health educational messages in health communication strategies
Include content about depression in company newsletters, on the intranet and in other regular employee communication platforms.
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