Saturday, October 13, 2007

Depressed workers

A new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; say that five times fast) states that an average of 7% of U.S. workers age 18 to 64 experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. The data is based on surveys conducted of full-time workers in 2004 and 2006.

Importantly, the rate of MDEs varied by occupation, age, and gender:

- The highest rates of depression were found among personal care and service occupations (10.8%) and food preparation and serving related occupations (10.3%).

- The highest rate among female workers was in personal care and service (a whopping 14.8%). The highest rate among men was in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (a much lower 6.7%).

- Lowest overall rates were found in engineering, architecture, and surveyors (4.3%), life, physical, and social sciences (4.4%), and installation, maintenance, and repair (4.4%).

- The highest rate among those age 18-25 was in healthcare practitioners and technical (11.9%); lowest was in life, physical, and social sciences (4.3%).

- The highest rates among those age 50-64 were in financial (9.8%) and personal care and service (9.7%) while the lowest rates were in sales and related (3.6%) and production (3.7%).

(Keep in mind when looking at occupational differences that women typically report higher levels of depression, and depression rates decrease with age)

Implications? Keep in mind these statistics if you have people in these occupations in your organization. Depression will impact productivity and your recruitment efforts, let alone any other processes or initiatives that require high levels of employee energy and involvement. Wellness efforts specifically targeting individuals in these occupations may pay bigger dividends.

The report includes the fact that U.S. companies lose an estimated $30-40 billion dollars a year due to employee depression.

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