An article produced by Harvard Business Review recently reported on the silent epidemic in the U.S. economy – depression. That article was written by Douglas Jacobs on Dec. 11, 2015 and is titled Employers Should Offer Free Screenings for Depression.

depressionThe article shared astonishing facts:

  • Depression affects 350 million people globally each year and 9.5 percent of the adult population.
  • 1 in 10 employed adults miss works days because they were too anxious or too depressed to go to work.
  • 548,000 Americans will call in sick or be impaired on the job because of depression.
  • In 2020, it is estimated that depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world.
  • It is estimated that depression costs companies between $17 billion and $44 billion.

While the cost is devastating from an employer standpoint, it is even more devastating to learn that so many people are suffering with this chronic disease every day. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.

Depression is treatable, which is contrary to what many people believe. Upon being diagnosed, the sooner treatment is provided the more effective it will be. More than 80 percent of those treated for depression show an improvement within four to six weeks, whether it is receiving medication, psychotherapy or attending support groups.

Employers Can Help

Employers can help their employees by providing resources and encouragement to get screened. Many mental health screening tests are available on the internet free of charge and if you already have a partnership with an EAP program they likely have resources available as well.

Here are a few quick links to screenings for your reference:

Human Resource departments can educate their employees about mental health through already established communication channels and programs (i.e. wellness program).

It is also important to note, when communicating encouragement to employees, that participation in the screenings remain anonymous. This will not only protect your company from the Americans with Disabilities Act but it will also increase participation.

Read the article in its entirety here.