16 May 2013

Free Tools Help Employers Take On Depression

By Elizabeth Borton

A couple weeks ago I met with Marcus Miles from Employers Health to get a sneak peek at a new, free tool for employers. His group collaborated with The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health to create a fun, creative and helpful website called Right Direction. The website provides turn-key tools and resources to educate employees about depression and actionable steps they can take to improve their health. Best of all, it’s free!

I wanted to share the link with you now that the Right Direction website is officially launched. I find that mental health is an area that most employers avoid addressing, even though it costs them plenty in lost productivity and absenteeism. Think about it. Have you ever noticed employees having the following problems?

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Lack of interest in activities and work
  • Lower quality and/or quantity of work
  • Tardiness and missing deadlines
  • Distraction or lack of focus
  • Frequent sick days

Research shows that one in 10 people struggles with depression. However, only one-third of people with diagnosable mental health conditions seek care. As an employer, you’re in a position to help. However, depression can be an uncomfortable area to navigate. That’s why the Partnership developed the Right Direction program.

The website and supporting materials are a far cry from typical mental health materials, with images of depressed people looking forlornly out windows. Instead, it takes a light-hearted approach, using a wilderness theme and a friendly bear. As the home page explains, “When you’re depressed at work, it can feel like you’re lost in the woods alone. But there’s help, and you can find your way out.” A series of signs then direct employees to learn about common symptoms, access a depression screening tool, get tips on how to discuss depression with their family and much more.

Check out the site as well as the complete employer’s toolkit. As the ad on TV says, “Depression hurts.” Taking a step in the Right Direction just might help!