Systematic review of intervention practices for depression in the workplace

Report cover

Published: February 2011

by: Furlan AD, Gnam W, Carnide N, Irvin E, Amick B, DeRango K, McMaster R, Cullen KL, Brouwer S, Bultmann U, Slack T

Depression is a widespread, disabling mental health illness with far-reaching personal and economic consequences. By the year 2020, depression is expected to impose the second largest of all illness burdens in developed economies. Research conducted over the past decade has also revealed important personal and economic consequences of workplace depression. Not surprisingly, employers have increasingly expressed concern over the considerable burden of depression imposed on their employees and the impact on the workplace. Canadian employers, in particular, have identified depression and other mental disorders as one of the principal causes of workplace absenteeism.

Consequently, many employers offer general mental health benefits through Employee Assistance Programs, health promotion or wellness programs in an attempt to bridge the management gap. Yet, employer-sponsored programs that specifically target depression remain uncommon, perhaps because there is little information on the effectiveness of targeted interventions that improve workplace outcomes most directly relevant to employers, such as absenteeism and productivity. Therefore, the Institute for Work & Health undertook a systematic review to determine which intervention approaches to manage depression in the workplace have been successful and yielded value for employers in developed economies. The results of that systematic review are reported here.