Screening for Mental Health
Do you think mental health screening can help address deficiencies in our nation’s approach to diagnosing the treating mood disorders? Policymakers certainly think so: mental health screening is an essential component of several pieces of legislation, incorporating the finding that early detection of mental health conditions increases the likelihood of successful treatment.
Mental health screening is private and anonymous, cost-effective, quick, and accessible, and it provides information and encouragement for people to seek help early. This Thursday is National Depression Screening Day, so there’s still time to rally your network to participate! Here, the nonprofit organization Screening for Mental Health tells why screening is important and how it supports workplace mental health.
Why mental health matters in the workplace
It is estimated that about one-third of those with a mental illness are employed. And according to the National Institute on Mental Illness, nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce (28 million workers ages 18-54) will experience a mental or substance abuse disorder. Despite these significant statistics, 71 percent of workers with mental illnesses have never sought help from a medical or mental health specialist for their symptoms.
When left untreated, mental illness can be costly both to the individual and the workforce, even more so if an employee’s depression is linked to substance abuse.
• A RAND Corporation study found that patients with depressive symptoms spend more days in bed than those with diabetes, arthritis, back problems, lung problems, or gastrointestinal disorders
• Depression accounts for close to $12 billion in lost workdays each year
• More than $11 billion in other costs accrue from decreased productivity due to symptoms that cause problems with energy levels, concentration, memory, and decision making.
As we know, the good news for employers and employees is that depression is treatable. According to the World Health Organization, the vast majority (60-80 percent) of people with depression will improve with proper diagnosis and treatment.
How screening helps workplace mental health
Early intervention and prevention programs can be integral in managing symptoms of mental illness and improving treatment outcomes. Anonymous online screenings are an effective way to reach employees who need help the most. A screening program can also work well for small organizations that lack official EAP services. Quality mental health programs for employees can reduce stigma, raise awareness, teach managers how to recognize symptoms and help organizations effectively assist depressed employees.
It is important to assess work environments for effective mental health policies and programs. From employee morale to the company’s bottom line, mental health can affect all areas of the workplace. When the mental health of one employee is prioritized, the entire organization will benefit.
“Help Yourself, Help Others” to Get Screened on October 10
The nonprofit Screening for Mental Health offers National Depression Screening Day programs for the military, colleges and universities, community-based organizations, and businesses. Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. This year, NDSD is on Thursday, October 10.
NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides referral information for treatment. Through the program, more than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991. Anonymous online depression screenings are available for the public at www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org.
When you had a concern about your (or a loved one’s) mental health, have you used an online screening? How did it help?
Does your employer offer mental health screenings or other programs for a mentally healthy workplace?
For more information on participating in National Depression Screening Day please contact Michelle Holmberg at or by email. Information is also available at the Screening for Mental Health website and www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
Care for Your Mind has several posts about workplace mental health! Click on the “workplace” tag in the right-hand column.