Benefits and Compensation

Train Employees to Recognize—and Seek Help for—Depression

In yesterday’s Advisor, we reported on a recent study on the increasing rates of workplace suicide. Today, we provide training for your employees on how they can recognize and get help for depression—before it leads to suicidal thoughts or actions.

Economic depression isn’t the only type of depression that can harm workplace productivity. The reality is that mental and emotional depression in the workplace are common, costly—and treatable.
The bad news, as we saw yesterday, is that workplace suicide rates are climbing faster than rates for the general population. The good news, however, is that depression is highly treatable—more than 80 percent can successfully overcome clinical depression—as long as sufferers seek treatment.
It’s a good idea, then, to train your workers on the symptoms of and the treatments for depression.
Give your workers this checklist of symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH—www.nlm.nih.gov). Ask them to consider the questions for themselves and for coworkers whose attitudes seem to have changed.


From depression to anxiety, bipolar disorder to phobias, no workplace is immune to employee mental health issues. Learn more with HR’s one-stop information and answers resource: HR & Mental Health.


Do you experience:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or empty feelings?
  • Feelings of hopelessness?
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness?
  • Irritability or restlessness?
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable, including sex?
  • Constant tiredness?
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions?
  • Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)?
  • Sleeping all the time?
  • Overeating or loss of appetite?
  • Thoughts of suicide or making suicide attempts?
  • Ongoing aches and pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not go away?

Let workers know that if they experience these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, they need to seek help as soon as possible.
Encourage your employees to take the following steps if they think they (or a coworker) may be suffering from depression:
Seek treatment—and encourage others to do so. Some people are reluctant to speak up because they worry how such an admission will affect their career or that their insurance won’t cover treatment. But, the earlier people seek help, the more quickly they can recover and resume normal life. Give your workers the contact information for your employer’s employee assistance program officer.
Speak with your doctor to get a complete diagnostic evaluation, including onset, frequency, and severity of symptoms; family history; other medications you’re taking and possible side effects; and other relevant information.
Follow the prescribed treatment, which may include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or alternative remedies.


A subscription to HR & Mental Health provides everything HR needs to manage employee mental health conditions without running afoul of state and federal laws and regulations. Get more information.


Consult with your HR department to find out if emotional depression is enough of an issue in your workplace that wellness training about depression would be worth your and your employees’ time. The statistics say that it probably is.