A locally based coalition of employers has launched a national effort to combat depression in the workplace.
Employers Health joined with the American Psychiatric Foundation’s Partnership for Workplace Mental Health for an initiative to help companies across the country help their workers address mental-health problems.
The centerpiece of the “Right Direction” campaign is a new website — http://rightdirectionforme.com/ — that provides information about depression and tips for employers who want to raise awareness in the workplace.
The groups decided to develop and offer the free online tool kit and resources to companies nationwide to raise awareness about the impact of depression on the workplace, said Marcas Miles, director of programs and communications at Employers Health
The Canton-based national coalition of employers works to improve the cost, quality and accessibility of health services.
“Our main goal is to get everybody to the point of seeking help,” he said.
Depression is a leading cause of lost productivity in the United States, with an annual cost to employers estimated at $44 billion, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics. Studies have shown depression can lead to difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, forgetfulness and “presenteeism,” or being present at work but not fully productive.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about one in 10 people struggle with depression, but many don’t seek medical help.
Employers Health announced the Right Direction initiative to raise awareness about depression in the workplace on Wednesday during its 14th annual Employer Symposium in North Canton.
The website includes a screening tool consumers can use to see whether they have signs of depression. Users are encouraged to share the results with a health-care provider.
Another dedicated portion of the Right Direction website — http://rightdirectionforme.com/foremployers — offers informational materials and posters about depression and other tools employers can use to create a companywide educational campaign.
The employer site also includes information to educate managers about the potential impact of depression on their workers, Miles said.
“Just because someone is showing up looking like they’re tired and have a lack of sleep doesn’t mean they’re out partying all night,” he said.
Though many companies offer employee assistance programs and mental-health benefits, more needs to be done to address depression in the workplace, Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, said in a news release.
Employers “realize that many people who need help aren’t getting it,” she said. “In fact, employees with depression sometimes aren’t aware they have the condition. We want to encourage information-seeking behavior around depression, help employees get healthy through a variety of resources and tools and help employers improve the health of their bottom line through improved work performance, increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and importantly, improved job satisfaction.”
The educational initiative received financial support from two pharmaceutical companies, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Lundbeck US, but the drug makers were not involved with the content of the campaign, Miles said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.