Study: Simple accommodations may reduce depression-related costs
Researchers, reporting in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, studied Canadian workers and looked into the need for and use of workplace mental health accommodations. They found a wide disparity between the two, suggesting a way employers can address the issue.
They found that a significant proportion -- 83 percent -- needed workplace accommodations. However, only 30.5 percent actually received all the help they needed.
The researchers studied nearly 800 workers who either had a depressive and/or anxiety disorder in the prior 12-month period or did not have a mental disorder in the past 12 months but had a mental disorder in their lifetime. Included were employees who screened positive for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorders, dysthmia (a chronic type of depression), social phobia, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
In terms of the need for workplace accommodations, the top three reported among both groups were:
- Having weekly meetings between the supervisor and the employee, which may help to deal with problems before they become serious.
- Exchanging minor tasks with other employees.
- Attending courses that are individualized.
Those who had suffered from a mental disorder in the previous 12-month period were also likely to need: the services of an employee assistance program, change to a different job, reduced work hours to allow for more breaks, and a change from full-time to part-time work.
Other accommodations noted were:
- Getting a quieter workplace.
- The option of working at home.
- Participation in a peer support group.
- Slower work pace.
- Modified job duties.
- A job coach.
Those with a more recent mental disorder reported a greater need for treatment and an immediate reduction in work demands. However, they were less likely to have received the accommodations needed.
The researchers said the level of accommodation needs being met was not related to any demographic and socioeconomic variables.
"Although 30 percent of our participants received all of the accommodations they needed, there is obviously room for improvement," the research said. "Depressive and anxiety disorders are prevalent and costly in the working population. Providing mental health accommodations may be one option for reducing the burden."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 31, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications