For every dollar spent on medical costs and pharmaceuticals, there is $2.30 of health-related productivity losses due to absenteeism and presenteeism according to a recent US study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicines . For certain conditions such as anxiety, employers may lose as much as $20 in productivity for every dollar they spend.
Dejardins Financial reports that disability costs represent 12% of payroll and 30-40% of disability call-ins are due to mental health issues. The top five costliest conditions based on medical and drug costs and productivity losses for employers are depression, obesity, cancer, back/neck pain and anxiety.
The Journal of American Medicine estimates that as many as 8.4 hours are lost per employee per week as a result of Major Depression. That’s 26 lost work days per year, versus 17 days for cancer. Research from the Integrated Benefits Institute found that workers on depression-related disability leave are away from work longer than other employees on disability. IBI also reported that employers underestimate the prevalence and lost productivity costs of depression. Disability payments are two and a half times the cost of medical care and pharmacy benefits combined, while lost productivity represents 60% of the full cost of the disability leave. Their research shows that 80% of all productivity losses for depressed employees are associated with sick leave and presenteeism. (US based information).
As much as 10% of the working population suffers from Depression yet only about one-third are receiving the care that they need. When applied to your particular workplace it is easy to see how productivity can plummet if not effectively managed. A Dejardins Financial Service 2008 report found that only 14% of Canadians felt that they could talk to their supervisor about work-life issues. However, companies with EAP’s in place have on average 21% lower rates of absenteeism and 14% higher productivity rates. (Department of Health and Human Services). Employers need to understand the issue of Depression and they have to show support, understanding and commitment to dealing with the issues.
A Watson Wyatt survey that indicated that more than half of the employers surveyed view mental health claims as a top concern, but only 31% have plans in place. Thirty-five percent have return-to-work processes. Only 27% have a mental health assessment tool. Here is one for free – http://www.checkupfromtheneckup.ca/
In light of all the stressors that employees are facing the issue of depression is coming to the forefront – especially as we head into Mental Illness Awareness Week/Month.
Recession Depression as a term in some ways detracts from the importance and seriousness of the illness. Yes, employees are stressed out due to the chaos in our economy and the turmoil in many of our workplaces. This stress can contribute to physical, behavioural and psychological symptoms and reactions. It can lead to burnout, fatigue, increased blood pressure, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders and in some cases it can lead to Depression. Not just feelings of sadness and the blues. But to the point where the joy is taken away. Where motivation is hard to come by and where feelings of hopelessness and helplessness reign.
We use to use the term reactive depression to identify the illness of depression that may have been triggered by a specific event – the loss of a loved one, being fired from our job or the chaos from the recession. However, this often minimizes the complex nature of Depression – it is an illness where brain chemistry isn’t working properly – where the sources of the stress tax the brain so significantly that it can’t function the way that it use to. When we simplify, the treatment seems rather simple and obvious – minimize the impact of the recession and the symptoms should go away – but often it is not that simple.
Finding the right strategies to deal with the sources of stress may be all that it takes to relieve the person of the symptoms. For others it doesn’t. It is not a matter of will power or strength of character. For some medication helps to regulate brain chemistry so that it functions properly and stress management strategies learned through counseling help to keep the brain from being taxed beyond its ability to function properly.
Recession Depression can describe a person who is stressed out or a person who is burned out. It has also been used to describe someone who is experiencing Depression – Is it the main stressor or is it the straw that broke the camel’s back? It is often like the chicken and the egg debate. As a stress and wellness expert and speaker, I caution people when they try to identify the ’cause’ of the illness of Depression as often it is complicated. The good news is that if someone is experiencing Depression – there is help and treatment is often successful (80-90%). The treatment options are varied and all depend on where the person wants to start and their experience with their illness. Medication can help but so can many other treatment options and it really takes a team approach to support the person – doctors, counselors/psychiatrists, family, friends, EAP and employer.
Interestingly enough CAMH found that when a collaborative team approach was used the average cost savings to the employer was $503 per patient and 85% of participants were able to return to work as opposed to 64% who only received standard care.
For more information on workshops around the issues of Depression and Mental Illness – visit https://worksmartlivesmart.com/stress-and-wellness-workshops-and-presentations/
- Does your company promote Mental Illness Awareness Week?
- Do you track your depression claims to know the cost to your company?
- Do you think management has been adequately trained to deal with this issue?
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!