Increasingly, employers have taken a proactive approach to preventing the kinds of chronic health conditions that can cost them a fortune in healthcare spending.
But there’s one condition that’s consistently overlooked by many firms: depression.
Depression affects 10% to 20% of employees, according to research by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI).
And employees who suffer from depression and don’t get treatment impact the entire company.
Depression costs firms $62K per 100 employees in lost work time and medical treatments, the study found.
The bulk ($53K) comes from lost time and underperformance at work – i.e., presenteeism.
On top of that, employees with depression have an average of an additional five conditions that make care strategies more difficult. According to IBI, the two most common additional conditions are:
- anxiety (48% of depressed workers also suffer from this), and
- chronic fatigue (46%).
Removing the stigma
While depression treatment is generally effective, IBI found only one-third of employees suffering from depression currently receive treatment.
A big reason: The stigma that’s still associated with mental-health issues. Many workers actually forgo treatment for fear of losing their jobs.
That’s where employers can help. If you offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), be sure to regularly communicate the availability and benefits of the program.
In addition, you may want to consider talking to your provider about a mental health screener like the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which helps diagnose depression and its severity.
Employees can discuss their results with a healthcare provider or their primary-care physician.