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People who are depressed but not treated consume 2 to 4 times the health care resources as those who are properly treated. woman-with-holiday-blues-christmas-lightsThe good news is employers can address this problem head on, and at relatively low cost. The first step is already embedded in the fabric of most companies — an employee assistance program. Based on a behavioral risk survey conducted by Employee Benefit News in 2012, an overwhelming 97% of employers surveyed had an existing EAP program.

But as prevalent as EAPs are, they are woefully underutilized. Employers can do a better job of communicating the services they provide and, crucially, that use is confidential and has no impact on an employee’s work status — just like any other health care.

When HR departments do effectively communicate about EAP, the results are impressive. Employers can receive a significant ROI from outreach and enhanced treatment of depressed workers for a cost of only $100 to $400 for low- to moderate-intensity interventions.

The second step is one that has been effectively applied to cancers and other diseases —increased screening. In addition to identifying issues early, screening tools are also effective in monitoring depression. Increased screening results include better adherence to treatment programs, decreased use and abuse of narcotics and alcohol, lower inpatient and outpatient days, and decreased absenteeism.

Additional source: Terri L. Rhodes, executive director of the Disability Management Employer Coalition.

Note from author of this blog: This will be our last post of 2013. How did we do? What posts would you like to see in 2014? Send suggestions to mike.jacquart@impacttrainingcenter.net  Watch for the first post of the New Year on Jan. 2! Until then, scour through some of the 200-PLUS posts currently on this blog!