Wednesday, 07 July 2004 11:54

Value in Treating Depression

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NIH LogoWorkplace Depression Screening, Outreach and Enhanced Treatment Improves Productivity, Lowers Employer Costs

Enhanced and systematic efforts to identify and treat depression in the workplace significantly improves employee health and productivity, likely leading to lower costs overall for the employer, according to a study published September 26, 2007, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Previous studies have shown that employees who are depressed are less productive and are absent more often. Other studies have shown that organized screening and enhanced depression treatment can significantly improve health. However, few employers have implemented such programs, in part because their return on investment is unclear.

"This study provides compelling evidence of the importance of workplace depression screening, outreach, and enhanced treatment," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "It is in the interest of workers' health and the company's bottom line to ensure depressed employees are effectively treated."

Philip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H., director of NIMH's Division of Services and Intervention Research, and colleagues conducted a trial with 604 employees enrolled in a managed behavioral health care plan, all of whom were identified as having clinically significant depression during a Web-based and telephone screening process. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to an intervention that included telephone support from a care manager and their choice of telephone psychotherapy, in-person psychotherapy or antidepressant medication. The other half of the participants were assigned to usual care, which included feedback about their screening results, and advice to seek care from their usual provider.

After 12 months, those in the intervention group were 40 percent more likely to have recovered from their depression compared to those in usual care. Participants in the intervention group also were 70 percent more likely to stay employed, and worked an average of two more hours per week than those in usual care.

Although the data did not lend itself to a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis, the researchers noted that just the value of more hours worked among those in the intervention group who were employed, estimated at $1,800 per employee per year, far exceeds the $100-$400 per person costs associated with the type of outreach and intervention program used in the study.

"For many people, a large chunk of their lives is devoted to work. Depression affects not only a person's health, but also his or her ability to work," noted Dr. Wang. "Employers should consider a depression screening and intervention program as a healthy, win-win investment."

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Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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