It wasn't long ago that the world was shaken by the tragic suicide of award-winning actor Robin Williams. Many people outwardly questioned how someone so gifted and funny could take their own life. At the same time, it served as a sobering reminder that depression is a serious condition and exists all around us.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 16 million people over age 18 suffer from major depressive episodes annually. This number represents 6.7 percent of the adult population in the United States. Consider the implications of this statistic on your workplace. How many of your employees will be affected?
Depression can present itself in a variety of ways in the workplace -- from excessive tardiness and absences to decreased productivity, morale, and use of appropriate safety precautions. People with depression are more prone to substance use and abuse, as well as fatigue and illness, among other concerns. While mental health is a private, personal issue, it becomes a public concern in many ways. That's why it's important for employers to recognize the actions they can take to support employees who struggle with depression.
What Employers Can Do
In many regards, an employer's hands are tied when it comes to employee well-being. Short of expressing concern, there are few resources available that don't compromise the employer's standing. That's one reason why so many companies are turning to Employee Assistance Programs. In place of being able to assist on a personal level, business leaders find that EAPs are particularly helpful.
How EAPs Can Help
Employers have an array of options when it comes to choosing an Employee Assistance Program. Such programs are worksite-based and/or resources intended to serve employees and employers in order to improve job productivity. With the right EAP in place, employers can readily support staff who are struggling.
Research shows that successful EAP programs can help employees identify and resolve personal issues before the challenges become overwhelming. As a result, companies lose far fewer employees to turnover and notice a greater sense of morale throughout the workplace. Other benefits of EAPs include:
- Fewer worker's compensation reports
- Less absenteeism
- Improved employee retention
- Reduced medical costs associated with progressed mental health issues
- Decrease in number of labor disputes
Working With an EAP
As the employer, you'll want to ensure your money is well spent. This means that your employees have access to high-quality services. To help ensure this, check that a potential EAP offers the following services:
Choices about the method of counseling. Counseling provided should reflect a variety of individual preferences, including e-counseling, face-to-face visits, phone conversations, and group support.
Information for management and employees with regards to mental health. Some organizations mandate a certain number of hours of training be completed annually. To be effective, incentives should be attached to participation.
Continuation of treatment. Employees who establish a relationship with a provider should have the option of continuing service, whether it be through private insurance or out-of-pocket fees.
Although it's difficult to approach employees about mental health concerns, it's wise to have resources in place if someone is dealing with such challenges. An effective Employee Assistance Program can be such a resource.