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Return-to-work strategies critical for employees with depression: Conference Board

By Canadian Chiropractor staff   

Features Clinical Patient Care

depressionSept. 10, 2013 – Organizations across Canada need to put in place graduated return-to-work strategies and other accommodations to help employees who return to work after being treated for depression, a new report from the Conference Board of Canada said.

The recommendation is part of a series of conclusions in the Conference
Board report, Depression in the Workplace: Insights From Employees and
Supervisors, published today. 

The new survey of employees and
supervisors found that after a work absence due to depression,
two-thirds of employees who return have difficulties concentrating,
remembering things, making decisions, and performing tasks—even after
being medically cleared to return to their jobs.


According to the
report, the specific strategies and accommodations required will depend
on the individual’s circumstances, but might include reducing
distractions to improve concentration or providing minutes of meetings
to assist with memory and follow-up tasks.

“Individuals who
experience depression can show a significant decline in their work
productivity and problems can arise even years after the period of
depression. This has a significant impact for employers in terms of lost
productivity,” said Louise Chenier, senior research associate with the
Conference Board.

“It’s important to stress that once an
accommodation measure has been identified and implemented successfully,
the employee should be treated like all other employees. The temptation
is to lower expectations. This approach can lead to inequities between
employees and perceptions of unfairness.”

In Canada,
approximately 16 per cent of women and 11 per cent of men will
experience a major depression in their lifetimes, according to Health

The new report is based on a Conference Board survey of
2,004 individuals (including 727 front-line supervisors), conducted
between February 18 and March 5, 2013. In all, 147 respondents had taken
either a short- or long-term leave of absence from work due to

The overall study results align with other research
showing that individuals experiencing depression often continue to
suffer from cognitive symptoms even after treatment.

Funding for the Conference Board research was provided by Lundbeck Canada Inc.

findings of this study will be presented on Wednesday, October 30, at
the Conference Board’s Wellness and Sustainable Health Care Summit in
Toronto. Additional research on wellness and workplace health will be
presented at Disability Management and Benefits 2013: Driving
Productivity with Effective Workplace Practices on October 28-29, also
in Toronto.

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