A new survey by the Centers for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto suggests half of workers with depression don’t recognize the need for depression treatment. Out of all the participants, 40 percent of respondents experienced significant depressive symptoms, but 52.8 percent of that group did not see the need for treatment. Within population studies similar results have also been found.
Dr. Carolyn Dewa, lead study author, said, “Our results suggest that a significant number of workers who are experiencing symptoms of depression do not recognize they could benefit from help, and so do not seek it. 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.”
Over 2,000 residents of Ontario completed a telephone or web-based questionnaire. Additionally, researchers developed a model to help employers recognize barriers to treatment. Strategies could be made to better overcome these barriers, and get more individuals who require treatment to utilize it. The team found that by removing the barrier work productivity loss dropped by 33 percent.
Dr. Dewa added, “It’s important for employers to know where to start when it comes to tackling productivity loss related to untreated depression. Our study suggests that helping workers understand when they should be seeking help would significantly boost work productivity.”
Attitudinal and structural barriers were also examined – these include stigma towards mental illness and financial limitations, to name a few. When all barriers were removed work productivity loss reduced by 50 percent.
Dr. Dewa concluded, “Improving recognition for treatment is not the only opportunity for employers. The most effective workplace mental health strategies will acknowledge the complexity of the problem and address all aspects in a comprehensive way.”
The findings of the surveys were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.