Depression in the workplace

World Mental Health Day happens each year on October 10th, and with it comes the information that here in Canada, more than one in five Canadian workers suffer from depression.

A national survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health found that more than 22 per cent of Canadian workers report they are currently suffering from depression, with another 16 per cent noting they have experienced depression in the past.

As awareness grows on the prevalence of mental health issues, so too does training in the workplace for managers and supervisors on how to help employees showing signs of depression or emotional distress. Eighty four per cent of managers surveyed said they believe it is a part of their job to intervene when they notice such signs. Just five years ago, only one in five managers had received training for mental health intervention. This compares with one in three today.

The findings are based on the results of 6,624 online surveys – 2,317 from managers and supervisors and 4,307 from employees.

“The really good news is that more managers have received training in how to intervene. We’re not there yet, though. Nearly two thirds of managers are still seeking better training to address this type of situation. They are asking for more support and flexibility from upper-level management and human resources,” noted Mary Ann Baynton, program director at the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health, in Tuesday’s news release.

Mental health issues in the workplace can be costly for business to the tune of $51 billion (US) in Canada each year, and $1.1 trillion across North America and Europe.

Respondents did note that employers are more accommodating to physical illness than mental illness, with 33 per cent saying their employer is not at all accommodating, or somewhat unaccommodating.

The issue of proving an employee is actually suffering from depression can also cause problems, with 71 per cent of managers and supervisors noting there needs to be a way to verify an employee is suffering before giving any special consideration at work.

Find free resources to foster a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
See the survey results.

Additional sources: World Health Organization, Globe and Mail