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Managers Lack Awareness, Tools To Deal With Depression In The Workplace

By Nick Otto - Employee Benefit News

Depression in the workplace can affect anyone and it takes an emotional toll on those affected, and can also have a significant financial toll on employers.  A new program developed by the American Psychiatric Foundation and Employers Health Coalition aims to provide both employers and employees with the tools needed to help combat depression in the workplace.

According to a recent study from Ipsos Healthcare, the Impact of Depression at Work Audit, 36% of managers say they have no formal support or resource in place to handle an employee with depression. Additionally, the study found an employee with depression would take an average of nine days leave due to effects from the illness.

“These figures directly contribute to the estimated $100 billion annually spent on depression costs by U.S. employers including $44 billion a year in lost productivity alone,” according to Employers Health Coalition, an Ohio-based business health group. “Additionally, mental illness short-term disability claims are growing by 10% annually. Unfortunately, this prevalence and unmet need does not currently translate into help for people with depression, as more than 35% of managers reported receiving no formal support or resources to guide their employees.”

Right Direction, a new program developed between the American Psychiatric Foundation and Employers Health Coalition, provides employers with free tools and resources to help guide employees to get the help needed in combatting depression.

Marcas Miles, senior director of marketing and communications at Employers Health, says he doesn’t believe employers are actively trying to maintain the stigma that still surrounds mental health and treatment “but if I’m an HR benefits manager and I’m not equipped, there are unmet needs.”

Right Direction helps raise awareness about depression in the workplace, promote early recognition of symptoms and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“We designed the Right Direction initiative to specifically cater to the needs of employers, in order to ensure this resource is as helpful and easy to execute as possible,” Miles said. “The goal of the initiative is to raise awareness and reduce stigma around depression in order to provide a more productive workplace and supportive company culture.”

According to the Ipsos poll, notable behaviors of depressed employees include withdrawing from colleagues, tardiness and an increase in errors. In that same study, 86% of respondents admitted to coming into work late during an episode of depression.

Kent State University has rolled out Right Direction, and the employer’s employee assistant program has played a key role in implementing the program, Miles added. “They do have some great tactics and resources, including newsletters for employees.”
If an employer has a strong EAP, that may be the only other option to get information out to employees, he said. “Ultimately we want people to call on their EAP. That’s the first line of guidance to talk to someone,” says Miles. “We also recommend they go to the primary care physician.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 10 Americans will suffer from a depressive illness. Additionally, clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is now the second-leading cause of disability worldwide.










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