Depression Common in Workplace

Forty percent of workers surveyed reported significant symptoms of depression. But more than 50 % of those with symptoms never recognized the need to seek help, Canadian researchers found.

Employees with a case of the Mondays that lasts all week may not realize they could use professional help.

Forty percent of randomly chosen survey participants reported significant symptoms of depression. But more than 50 % of those with symptoms never recognized the need to seek help, report researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health and the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada. The study is published in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“This barrier has a significant impact on health and work productivity, and is an area where employers can focus efforts to reduce work productivity loss,” Carolyn Dewa, MPH, PhD, head of the Centre said in a release.

The team analyzed responses of 2,219 adults ages 18 to 65 in Ontario who completed either a telephone or web-based questionnaire. All had worked in the 12 months previous to taking the survey.

In addition, the researchers identified common attitudinal barriers to seeking treatment, such as fear of stigma or belief they can address it alone, as well as structural barriers such as financial limitations, time constraints, and accessibility of care.

To measure the effect of depression and treatment on the workplace, the researchers developed a model to measure productivity loss based on the survey data. They found that when barrier of perceived need is removed, leaving attitudinal and structure barriers, productivity loss was; reduced by 33 %; with a 41% reduction if attitude and structural gone, but perception of need is same. When all three barriers removed loss of productivity reduced by nearly 50 percent.

The survey results “suggest that the greatest barrier is related to the recognition of the need for services.” Dewa and her co-author Jeffrey S. Hoch, PhD, of the University of Toronto, wrote. “Our results also suggest that of the three barriers, removal of the recognition barrier is associated with the largest decreases in productivity losses,” they continued.