Association News
`Depression Calculator' Shows Cost of Untreated Illness
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 15 page 30-43

APA has added another element to its multiyear initiative to educate corporate officials and their employees about the financial and other costs of untreated mental illness in the workplace.

This new facet of the effort takes the form of a "depression calculator," a tool that should raise the consciousness of employers about the true costs of depression— consequences such as higher absenteesim, greater costs for other types of medical illness, and lower worker productivity.

APA helped launch the calculator in June in conjunction with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which commissioned development of the online instrument.

Employers who access the depression calculator are given a general introduction to depression and its workplace consequences, followed by an explanation of the "productivity impact model" (PI model) upon which the calculator relies to gather and analyze employers' responses.

The PI model, employers are told, will help them determine the incidence of depression in their company and then will predict "the expected number of days each year your employees will be absent or suffer low productivity due to their depression and the associated costs."

The model will also "project the net savings that will accrue with treatment of those employees suffering from depression."

In the first of the depression calculator's four sections, employers are asked to select from responses that describe the size, age, and gender of their workforce and type of business.

The next section provides a chart showing the expected prevalence of depression based on the firm's location and age/gender distribution. Accompanying the chart are descriptions of why these data are important and information critical to diagnosing depression. Then, again on the basis of age, gender, and size of the workforce, the calculator shows how many days workers with untreated depression will miss work on average and the extent of higher medical costs a company is likely to absorb for such employees.

Section three shows employers estimates of how much absenteeism is likely to drop if workers have access to affordable depression treatment, how much the company's incremental medical costs will drop, and the offsetting costs of depression treatment, including "counseling and medication."

The fourth section describes the net financial benefits over a three-year period of "identifying and treating employees suffering from depression." It also creates several charts that summarize the particular company's workforce data, the costs of untreated depression, and the savings a company can reap if depressed workers are treated for their illness.

APA believes the depression calculator will be a key component of its National Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, in which it collaborates with major corporations to improve employer-supported insurance coverage for mental illness treatment (see page 4).

The depression calculator is posted online at<www.depressioncalculator.com>. Information about APA's national partnership is posted at<www.workplacementalhealth.org>.

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