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
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
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>.▪