(Photo:Flickr/Alex E. Proimos)


The best way to combat depression in employees and increase productivity around the workplace is to have them receive treatment while still working, according to a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

The study analyzed data from a large-scale community survey of employed and recently employed people in Alberta and involved a sampling of 3,000 workers, with 255 of them – or 8.5 percent – reporting a “depressive episode.”

Those who experienced a depressive episode “were significantly less likely to be highly productive.” Lead author Carolyn Dewa said this finding was not surprising. “We expected this,” she said, “as past research has found that depression has adverse effects on comprehension, social participation and day-to-day-functioning.”

“What’s exciting,” Dewa added, “is we found that treatment for depression improves work productivity. People who had experienced a moderate depressive episode and received treatment were 2.5 times more likely to be highly productive compared with those who had no treatment. Likewise, people who experienced severe depression were seven times more likely to be high-performing than those who had no treatment.”

The results of the study do raise concerns for the overall mental well-being of employees, she said.

“We found that among all study participants who had been diagnosed with a severe depressive episode, 57 percent did not receive treatment; 40 percent of those who experienced a moderate depressive episode did not receive treatment,” said Dewa. “When we look at the success of workers in the sample who received treatment while still in the workplace, it really speaks to the importance of prevention and the need for employers to facilitate treatment and support. If people are able to receive treatment early, disability leave, which costs companies $18,000 per leave, may be avoided.”

“Stigma and discrimination have often affected people’s willingness to access services, as has the lack of knowledge around supports available in the workplace,” she said. “It is crucial that employers offer mental health interventions to their employees and support them in engaging in treatment, as well as continuing to support them as they transition back into the workplace.”

Source: CAMH

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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