Depression in the Workplace

Feb 20, 2012
There has certainly been a lot of communication about the increased prevalence of poor mental health in Canada and the impact it is having on the productivity of the Canadian workplace.  As reported in a 2007 Ipsos Reid study, the average annual cost to Canadian businesses for an employee suffering from depression and other mental issues equals $9,920.  Depression we are told is poised to be the 2nd most common disabling condition (behind heart disease) by the year 2020.  However we are also told by the Canadian Mental Health Association that 80% of people with depression can recover if they seek and receive help. 

What can be done about this?  If the mental health issue that a person has is so severe that a psychiatrist is required, most provincial government health care plans will fund the cost of the coverage.  If the issue is less severe, the resources available to employees are short term counseling provided through the employer’s EAP/EFAP (employee/family assistance plan), visits to a counseling psychologist covered by the employers group insurance plan paramedical coverage or the individual’s own resources for counseling services.

Recently we were introduced to a new service offered by an EAP/EFAP provider.  The program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and offers 8-30 minute telephone counseling sessions lead by a Master’s level counselor.  The program includes a workbook that has exercises to complete in between sessions to reinforce what has been discussed in each session. Although the program would pose an additional cost for the employer, the hope is that there will be a decrease in presence and severity of depression, decrease in absenteeism, and reduced costs for employers in the long term.

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