Depression treatment boosts work productivity

A study by CAMH scientists reveals treatment for depression improves work productivity. While previous studies have found that depression has adverse effects on comprehension, social participation, and day-to-day-functioning, CAMH’s study is the first to look into the relationship between treatment and productivity. Dr. Carolyn Dewa, head of CAMH’s Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health, is the lead author of the study whose findings are published in the January 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Dr. Dewa and her team found that those study participants who had experienced a moderate depressive episode and received treatment were two and a half times more likely to be highly productive, compared with those who received no treatment. Likewise, study participants who experienced severe depression and received treatment were seven times more likely to be high-performing than those who had no treatment.

Although the results point to the benefits of treatment on work performance, data also showed a troubling trend: most study participants who experienced depression did not receive treatment.

Of the study participants diagnosed with a severe depressive episode, 57 per cent did not receive treatment. And, 40 per cent of study participants who experienced a moderate depressive episode did not receive treatment.

“When we look at the success of workers in the sample who received treatment while still in the workplace, it really speaks to the importance of prevention and the need for employers to facilitate treatment and support,” said Dewa.

Mental illness costs the Canadian economy an estimated $51 billion annually, with a third of that attributed to productivity losses. Fear of discrimination continues to prevent people from accessing mental health services, while a lack of knowledge around supports available in the workplace and the community serves to further impede people from accessing the treatment they need to get well. 

How can an employer help? According to Dewa: “It’s crucial that employers offer mental health interventions to their employees and support them in engaging in treatment—as well as continuing to support them as they transition back into the workplace.”

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation

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100 Stokes Street, 5th Floor
Bell Gateway Building
Toronto, ON M6J 1H4

Toll-Free: 1.800.414.0471
Telephone: 416.979.6909
Fax: 416.979.6910


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