Depression Care Management

Frequently Asked Questions

  • As an employer, how do I know my employees are depressed?
  • National studies of employed Americans document that depression is far more common in the workforce than employers ever suspected. About one in 14 employees across the occupational spectrum experience an episode of depression each year.

We can estimate the prevalence of depression in your workforce using established actuarial methods because the risk for depression varies by gender and age. (Open depression calculator)

  • Why don't I "see" the employees with depression in my workforce?
  • Most employees try to "disguise" their disease because they are afraid their co-workers will devalue their contributions at work if they admit they have an emotional problem. Some employees try to hide their disease because they do not want anyone else to know they are not ‘playing at the top of their game'. Many healthcare professionals help employees hide their disease by substituting a less stigmatizing diagnosis when they treat a patient for depression.

    Even though antidepressants prescribing has increased dramatically over the last decade, recent studies show that less than 50% of depressed employees get any treatment for the condition, and more than 40% of depressed employees who start antidepressant medication discontinue it before they can realize any clinical benefit. Experts question whether increasing antidepressant prescribing rates reflect the increased "off label" use of antidepressants to treat conditions other than depression.
  • What is depression care management?
  • Depression care management is often an employer-funded, and always a confidential program that provides professional and compassionate one-to-one outreach and ongoing support to employees with depression. The program is clinically proven to improve treatment outcomes, to help individuals feel better about themselves, improve their quality of life at home and in the workplace, and be more productive at both.
  • Don't the health plans our company subscribes to already provide depression care management?
  • Several health plans have initiated depression care management programs in the past year. Most health plans do not provide depression care management because it requires them to restructure their service delivery systems to provide the type, duration, and intensity of depression treatment needed to improve clinical and work outcomes.
  • How do you know that depression care management will improve productivity in my work force?
  • The highest level of scientific evidence emerges from testing a new treatment in a randomized clinical trial (RCT) with a representative population of patients. The research team tested depression care management in an RCT with workers employed by over 100 companies in 10 states across the country. The trial demonstrated that depression care management significantly improved absenteeism and productivity at work, with no differences across the occupational spectrum. Because employees who participated in the trial had many different jobs, the research team used self-report measures of these work outcomes shown to have strong relationships with objective measures of absenteeism and productivity.
  • What does depression care management cost?
  • Vendors who provide depression care management currently employ a wide range of strategies to price their product. The most expensive and variable component of depression care management appears to be the vendor costs associated with engaging employees in the program. Since a vendor has to successfully engage employees to produce a return on investment for the purchaser, employers should carefully evaluate this component of the price.
  • Are all depression care management programs created ‘equal'?
  • Many vendors advertise their care management products as ‘evidence-based' whether or not their product delivers the critical components of the treatment shown to improve outcomes. The critical components of depression care management that a vendor must deliver to provide the treatment shown to provide return on investment are
    • Patient education regarding depression and its treatment.
    • 6 monthly outreach calls in the first 6 months.
    • 6 quarterly outreach calls between 7-24 months even if the patient feels better.
    • Depression care manager contact with the healthcare professional if patient fails to improve or relapses (with patient permission).
  • How can I measure whether I am getting a return on investment with depression care management?
  • The most effective way for a company to assure that it is receiving a return on investment is to purchase a product that delivers all critical components of depression care management. The company that purchases this product can insert data on the number of employee participants and the cost per participant using our Depression Calculator to estimate its return on investment.

    Another effective way for a company to estimate its return on investment is to review the annual reports the vendor provides on program retention and absenteeism/productivity change among participating employees.
  • How do I find a vendor that will provide the type of depression care management that will result in a return on investment?
  • Many employers find that a benefit consultant specialist or regional coalitions like Colorado Business Group on Health can help evaluate whether the care management product they are considering meets performance management standards.

Depression can have a debilitating effect on the productivity and morale in the workforce... but it can be successfully treated.

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