Each day in the USA, over 560,000 employees call in sick.
Companies lose $17 billion to $44 billion annually.
Over 200 million workdays are lost each year.

The reason: depression. The global workforce is in crisis, as this mental health issue silently eats away at their productivity and performance. It affects 9.5% of the adult population. Infact, the WHO estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability.

At workplaces, historically, people who have revealed their mental illness to their managers, have faced discrimination. For instance, in a 2010 survey of U.K. employers, 40% said they considered hiring someone with a mental illness to be a risk to the company, as they may be unreliable. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The National Institute of Health says, up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms, within four to six weeks.

Here are two actions you can take, to make your workplace more depression-friendly:

Offer anonymous screening services. Depression is a dynamic mental health issue, with a range of severity. It often goes unnoticed if people don’t manifest symptoms regularly. Nevertheless, it impacts their productivity.  For example, subthreshold depression is a type that doesn’t meet the formal criteria for major depression, but can still affect a person’s ability to perform their daily duties. Its symptoms include feeling significantly low and losing interest or motivation for one or two days a week.

To help get treatment at the right time, create a culture of safety and awareness. Offer free and anonymous depression screening services. Employees the world over want that. Be it something as simple as sending out this online questionnaire, or even this one. There’s even National Depression Screening Day, on October 5th 2017, if you’re looking for a reason.

Know how to offer support. There are two ways to offer help to an employee who may be struggling with depression. One can be to ask them what you can do to help them. And this is if they reveal their challenges. Workplace stress and wellness expert Mary Ann Baynton recommends asking, “What can I do to help you be successful at your job?” This indicates a sign of respect for the employee’s ability to consider solutions. As an employer, it also helps you get a commitment to the solution, because employees choose it themselves, rather than just comply with the organization’s suggestion.

The second way is to raise awareness of helpful resources that you can have at your fingertips – crisis hotlines, hospital programs, support groups, as well as on-site counselors. Display this information where people can access it with ease.

Though a delicate issue, depression is one that demands urgent consideration. Let’s make it easy to seek support.

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