Mental Health and Workers Comp: Is depression adding hidden weights to your bottom line?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. suffer from depression. It’s the leading cause of medical disability for people aged 14 to 44 and costs about $83 billion annually nationwide in lost productivity and increased medical expenses. And unlike other injuries or illnesses, depression doesn’t necessarily have a fixed endpoint – which means that costs could be incurred year after year.

Depression is particularly prevalent among workers who have been injured and are working to come back to the workplace. And while medication and therapy can put some on the road to recovery, depression can still lead to forgetfulness, lack of concentration and extended leaves of absence.

But the good news is that a great deal of depression is preventable, particularly if it is anticipated in a newly injured employee. Open communication and an effective program to return the employee to work as quickly as possible are some ways to alleviate depression and to help control its related expenses.

  1. Keep an open line of communication with injured employees to stem anxiety about their job, and to monitor their recovery. Consistent and supportive contact can also prevent employees from seeking costly legal counsel to help settle claims — action that becomes more likely the less contact employees have with their work team.

  2. Establish a return to work program that provides clear steps for the injured employee to come back to work and a framework for their smooth transition back to their work role.

  3. Provide a primary point of contact who is maintaining contact with the injured employee and making sure that the return-to-work program is working as intended. 

Find more tips on how to bring an injured employee back to work here.