Back to Blogs

How is Your Company Handling Depression in the Workplace?

August 21, 2014 | Staffing Blog

Handling Workplace Depression

Daily activity came to a grinding halt as news spread that beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams had died on Aug. 11 at the age of 63. What was particularly shocking to so many was that Williams had taken his own life after a long struggle with depression.

As fans recounted their favorite Robin Williams movies and comedy sketches, attention began to turn to issues of depression, mental illness and suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 38,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States. More people die by suicide each year than by homicide.

People who have struggled with depression for most of their lives may be quite adept at hiding their issues, which is why it’s so important to make sure your employees know they have a place to turn if they are struggling and certainly if they may be contemplating suicide. If any good can come from a tragic loss, it’s the opportunity to raise awareness about this critical subject.

How is your company addressing depression in the workplace?

Clinical depression is real and it’s costly. Mental Health America notes that if left untreated, depression costs more than $51 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity.

Employees struggling with depression may be afraid to come forward for fear it will have a negative impact on their work environment. They may be unsure as to whether insurance covers mental health services. Employers should be proactive in their approach toward depression, ensuring employees know what resources are available and giving them time to get the treatment they need.

This article from offers five excellent strategies for dealing with depression in the workplace, including educating your staff about depression (staff members can look for signs of trouble in their co-workers), providing resources and being prepared to act quickly if needed.

3 things you can do today to help your employees:

  • Create a list of local resources – mental health services, suicide hotlines or support groups. 
  • Review your company’s medical insurance policy and give employees information on the mental health coverage. 
  • Be vigilant and encourage your employees to take care of each other. By creating a workplace that cares, you’ve communicated the fact employees shouldn’t be afraid to come forward if they need treatment for depression.

Check out this article from HRZone about the HR department can help employees plus tips for creating an action plan and resources. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)