In Australia alone, more than one million people experience depression, anxiety or disorders through substance abuse each year. One in five people suffer from depression and this is carried into the workplace. Did you know that depression is second depresja only to heart-related illness in Australia?
Around 80% of depression sufferers indicated that they were functionally impaired because of depression. 27% reported serious difficulties at work as well as at home. Only 29% of depression sufferers in Australia sought professional mental assistance and of those with severe depression about 39% sought assistance of any kind.
Depression costs 200 million lost workdays each year and $17 to $44 billion in Australia alone. It is one of the most common of all mental health problems.
Research shows that rates of depression vary by occupation and industry type. Among full-time workers aged 18 to 64 years, the highest rates of workers experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year were found in the personal care and service occupations (10.8%) and the food preparation and serving related occupations (10.3%). Oddly those occupations that experienced the lowest rate of depression were engineering, architecture and surveying (4.3%); life, physical and social science (4.4%); installation, maintenance and repair (4.4%).
In three months alone, depressed employees miss 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of decreased productivity. In a well functioning workplace, the organisation protects and supports mental health and encourages employees to seek help for depression and anxiety for the benefit of the individual as well as the organisation.
What is Depression
Depression is characterised by changes in thinking, mood or behaviour and can affect anyone. Some of the factors affecting depression include genetics, physiology, psychology, gender and the environment. However, in the workforce, it is more complex and is not properly understood. What is understood is that both work and non-work factors cause depression in workplaces.
Several job stressors can contribute to depression in the workplace. These include high job demands, low job control and lack of social support at work. There is a need to understand organisational practices so as to decrease job stress and aspects of roles and their structures that contribute to poor mental health, enabling interventions to be developed to target these risk factors in the workplace. Workplaces have a significant impact on the mental health of staff through job design and workplace culture.
Depression is a real medical and social problem and its effects stretch across the boundaries of work and recreation. The World Health Organisation and the World Bank rank depression as the fourth leading cause of death and disability. It is the leading cause of non-fatal disability. By 2020, given the rising rate among young people, the lack of preventative programs and poor access to treatments, it will be second only to cardiovascular disease.
Many employers realise the importance of staff retention and motivation in creating a harmonious work environment, but in today’s climate it is also important to monitor the well being of staff. Depression and anxiety now accounts for approximately one third of all claims for income protection insurance and almost 50% of associated costs.
A lack of awareness and understanding in the workplace leads to difficult situations which may arise from prolonged absence or excessive sick-leave. With the correct awareness and support in place to remove the stigma associated with depression, the expense from both a financial and emotional perspective can potentially be avoided
Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness. While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time and often without reason. People with depression find it hard to function every day and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed.