In a recent column, Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses depression and how employers can address the condition’s toll on mental health and productivity. He notes that according to a recent Gallup poll, one in eight US workers has been diagnosed with depression, resulting in a loss of up to 68 million work days. But that may be the tip of the iceberg when also factoring in the diminished at-work productivity and ongoing toll on health. Studies have linked depression to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature aging. But there is good news: Treatment can help. “A study last year from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada found that people who were being treated for moderate depression were two-and-a-half times more likely to be highly productive than those not receiving treatment.”

In fact, a recent depression study by researchers at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that, ” treatment of depression before any apparent signs of cardiovascular disease can decrease the risk of future heart attacks and strokes by almost half.”
One of the primary barriers to people getting early treatment of depression is knowing and recognizing the signs of depression, which often go unnoticed. Learn the the signs and symptoms of depression.

What employers can do

  • Include depression and other mental health issues as part of your organization’s ongoing health and wellness initiatives and focus. There can often be a stigma around mental health issues that serve as a barrier to getting help. Employees may also have fears about confidentiality and work status.
  • Raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression among employees and supervisors. Issuing basic information about mental health matters, such as checklists of signs and symptoms of depression in a company newsletter, can also be very beneficial to both employees and the organization’s bottom line.
  • Train managers and supervisors to be alert for changes in job performance that may reflect common symptoms of depression. While it’s not a manager’s role to be a counselor, managers are in a position to refer an employee to professionals such as an EAP who can help to discover the underlying reason for the change in performance. Supervisors should know how and where to make a referral for help.
  • Promote the availability of confidential help: Your EAP 24 hour telephonic helpline is a start. Let employees know that they have access to depression screening, diagnostic and treatment services.
  • Worksite health & wellness initiatives that offer fitness and nutrition programs, help for stress reduction and programs for substance abuse can also be good adjunct programs in preventing and treating depression.

Workplace tools: Depression Calculator
Depression doesn’t have to be unbearable for your employees
The Secret Men Won’t Admit
Mike Wallace’s battle with depression leading to a suicide attempt
Depression Screening

When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.


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