Today is World Health Day, and the World Health Organization is highlighting its one-year campaign on depression awareness. According to WHO, more than 300 million people today live with depression, an increase of more than 18 percent from 2005 to 2015. It’s also cited as the leading cause of disability worldwide.
The numbers on depression
A compelling article on Corporate Wellness Magazine explores depression in the workplace and a 2014 research survey where almost one-quarter of U.S. respondents said they had been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. According to author Christin Erazo, depression ranks among the top five disability claims worldwide, and it costs employers $44 billion annually in lost productivity. Yet 35 percent of managers surveyed lack the resources to address depression on their teams.
Workplace initiatives coming up short
Many companies offer an Employee Assistance Program (known as EAP) for free, confidential counseling and wellness services. Yet Corporate Wellness Magazine tells us that only three percent of employees actually utilize the EAP services their company offers.
And while companies today are increasingly utilizing workplace wellness plans to support their employees’ well-being, mental health might not always be part of those plans, Corporate Wellness Magazine points out. This is unfortunate, because mental health is just as critical of a wellness factor that can impact employees and organizations: People with depression symptoms have more than five times the lost work than those without symptoms.
Integrating mental health into wellness plans
For organizations with workplace wellness initiatives, ask yourself: Does your organization’s wellness plan account for mental health? Fitness, diet and activity tracking are likely part of the plan already, but does it also provide tools for sleep, yoga, meditation and other practices that support mental and emotional well-being? A wellness initiative that integrates these practices in its platform can be one way to support your employees’ mental health.
Resources for employers and organizations
For more ways to support mental health in the workplace, the organization Worksite Wellness has created a checklist of “good,” “better” and “best” things an organization can do to integrate mental health into its strategies. Their page also includes a list of organizations for additional information and tools.
Another resource is called Right Direction, recommended by Corporate Wellness Magazine, which is aimed to help employers, organizations and individuals address depression with information and support.
To learn more about World Health Day and WHO’s campaign on depression, visit their website here.