Tag Archives: National Depression Screening Day

Employers’ Role in Preventing Suicide

American adults working full time spend an average of 47 hours per week at their workplace (Gallup 2013). For those dealing with a mental health issue or thoughts of suicide, employers have an important opportunity to create safeguards to protect those who may be at risk.

There are many reasons why an employee may keep concerns about his or her mental health private. Stigma, fear of losing one’s job, and lack of awareness can prevent an individual from seeking help. It can also prevent someone who is concerned about a co-worker from reaching out when they may be needed most.

Research shows that 70% of those who die by suicide tell someone or give warning signs before taking their own life. Coworkers see each other every day and are more apt to notice changes in mood and behavior. For this reason, they play a key role in identifying potential suicide risk and mental health crises in their peers.

See also: Blueprint for Suicide Prevention  

Mental health education and awareness programs can help to create an environment where employees feel comfortable reaching out for help and should be a primary component of workplace wellness initiatives. Employers can implement the following strategies that not only connect their employees with help but also promote a culture of mental health awareness:

Health Promotion

Health promotion programs enable employees to take action to better their health. While employers often use health promotion to encourage physical health changes, employers can use health promotion to discuss mental health issues and encourage a culture of employee engagement and connection, as well. National Depression Screening Day, held on Oct. 6 this year, raises awareness for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. The annual campaign provides employers with an opportunity to start the conversation with employees about mental health.

Online Screenings

Anonymous online screenings are a proven way to reach those in need and help direct them to appropriate assistance. Employees can take a screening to determine if the symptoms they are experiencing are consistent with a mental health disorder (i.e., depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, an eating disorder or a substance use disorder). Upon completion of a screening, employees are provided with immediate results and linked back to employee assistance program or local community resources. If your organization does not currently have an online screening program, a more general anonymous screening can be taken here.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data showing a 24% increase on average of suicide rates from 1999 to 2014. It is critical that employees learn how to talk with someone about mental health, understand how to recognize warning signs of suicide and know the actions to take to get themselves or a coworker the help they need.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force champions suicide prevention as a national priority and cultivates effective programming and resources within the workplace. The task force provides support for employers and motivates them to implement a comprehensive, public health approach to suicide prevention, intervention and “postvention” in the workplace. Programs like the Workplace Task Force are important sources of knowledge and assistance for employers.

See also: 6 Things to Do to Prevent Suicides  

Employers can provide resources such as Stop a Suicide Today, which educates individuals about the warning signs of suicide and steps to take if they are concerned about a coworker or loved one. There are also other lifesaving resources, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)).

The World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the second leading cause of disability by 2020. Employers have the option to act as catalysts for early detection and prevention when it comes to mental health disorders and suicide, which can lead to improved quality of life for individuals, as well as for the organization itself.

Hope on Depression in the Workplace

There is a silent epidemic taking a toll on the American workforce. This illness affects 9.5% of the adult population and is to blame for 200 million lost workdays each year. Those lost workdays cost employers an estimated $17 billion to $44 billion. Despite these staggering statistics, only one-third of those affected by this common illness will ever seek professional help. What is this cause of disability, absenteeism and productivity loss? Depression.

There are many reasons an employee may keep concerns about his mental health private. Stigma, fear of losing his job and lack of awareness can prevent an individual from seeking help. Despite these hurdles, there are strategies employers can implement to not only connect their employees with the help they need but to also improve productivity. Employers that address mental health issues have happier, healthier employees and see increased productivity and profits.

Confidential online depression screenings are a proven way to reach those in need and help direct them to appropriate assistance. For more than a decade, the WorkplaceResponse program has worked with organizations to address mental health issues in the workplace. Developed by the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, WorkplaceResponse is a mental health education and screening program that easily integrates into existing employee assistance programs or enhances existing wellness initiatives hosted by human resource departments or employee assistance programs.

The program offers screenings for common mental health concerns, including depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and alcohol use disorders. Screenings are anonymous and engage employees in becoming active participants in their own well-being. Upon completion of a screening, employees are provided with immediate results and linked back to employee assistance program (EAP), local or company resources.

Health promotion programs can also have positive effects in the workplace. These programs serve as excellent tools to increase mental health awareness and educate workers on the signs and symptoms of depression. Managers and employees who can identify these symptoms can assist at-risk individuals with receiving the help they need.

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October, is dedicated to raising awareness and screening people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to validated screening questionnaires and provides referral information for treatment.

Oct. 8 marks the 25th year of the revolutionary campaign. This milestone allows for opportunities to begin the conversation about mental health in the workplace. Identifying workplace risk factors, taking action to reduce employee stress and initiating organizational wellness programs can be productive first steps.

Employers can make a difference by encouraging employees to take a quick, anonymous mental health assessment at http://helpyourselfhelpothers.org/ or by launching a 25-day wellness challenge. To encourage employees to take care of their mental health, a 25-day wellness challenge provides ideas and actions individuals can take to relieve stress, boost mindfulness and foster healthy behaviors. Examples include walking, cooking with family and taking a break from technology. Simple methods like the challenge can help increase awareness in the workplace.

It is time to address workplace depression. Effective screening tools are available, and treatment works. The early detection and prevention of mental health conditions can improve the lives of individual employees as well as the health of an organization.