The analysis of workplace and employee data will suggest a myriad of possible strategies to be included in the workplace depression initiative. The following suggestions can help you build a successful and comprehensive program. Consider this as a menu of options to help you tailor the program to your company’s unique culture, needs, and resources:
Engage executive leadership to recognize the value of a workplace culture that promotes mental health, and to commit to a program.
- Share statistical data and return on investment information (opportunity assessment).
- Obtain commitment to fully fund and support a robust, multiyear program.
- Create a strategic communication plan that will include messaging from executive leadership to promote initiatives and to engage managers and employees.
If an active culture of well-being is present in the organization and there are uncoordinated, underutilized services that could support a robust depression-specific wellness focus:
- Engage the various vendor organizations to develop a comprehensive and coordinated depression program.
- Establish an ongoing project group—consisting of your vendor resources—with defined objectives and outcomes reporting.
- Encourage sharing of personal stories of how depression has affected the leader (either self or family/friends).
Enlist senior level support to communicate all initiatives that strive for an emotionally healthy workplace.
- Schedule Human Resources and manager orientation meetings to review the concept and promotional plan. Engage mid-level management to integrate, motivate, and communicate with employees.
- Distribute a welcome letter and branded materials to employees.
- Include a series of articles in the employee newsletter about depression, stress management, and work/life balance, complemented by spotlights on the company’s intranet, with reminders of relevant programs and benefits.
Encourage active worker participation, input, and involvement in the development of a workplace depression initiative.
- Invite employee participation in committees charged to create workplace communications.
- Ask employees for potential solutions to engage employees in early identification and intervention.
Feature programs that raise awareness about depression, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and promote early identification.
- Promote an online and/or onsite depression screening and articles found on a trusted health and wellness website, such as Achieve Solutions. Increase the visibility of this screening during a nationally recognized observance such as National Depression Screening Day (in October).
- Provide referral options for company-sponsored programs, as well as community resources.
- Consider offering a depression management program.
- Create a partnership between the pharmacy benefit manager and behavioral health program to identify members who are noncompliant with antidepressant medications and evaluate for enrollment in behavioral health-intensive case management.
- Consider collaborative review of cases between medical, behavioral health/EAP, and case management programs to review opportunities for early evaluation of depression and appropriate referral.
- Consider including testimonials from high-profile individuals to reduce stigma. Engage well-known local community figures as “ambassadors” for the initiative.
Provide information about stress management, building resilience, and strengthening coping skills.
- Present a “lunch-and-learn” workshop or online training for employees and Human Resources/managers.
- Consider offering long-term tools for stress management—such as ongoing on-site yoga or meditation classes—to help change and sustain healthier behaviors over time.
- Include short blurbs in online employee communications, TV slides, or talking points at the start of an employee meeting.
- Distribute posters/pamphlets on stress and stress-reduction strategies.
Promote a balance between work and personal life.
- Develop opportunities for employees to volunteer in the community and/or participate in corporate philanthropy programs or workplace special interest groups.
- Underscore the value of work/life balance through employee programs such as flex time, telecommuting, or job sharing.
- Review overtime policies and practices.
- Share newsletters about work/life-related topics.
- Encourage leaders to model work/life balance.
Educate employees about depression, company benefits, resources, and treatment options.
- Invite vendor partners to attend health fairs and discuss related topics. Distribute educational materials, promotional items, and branded communications.
- Post company-sponsored and community information in company facilities and company communication vehicles.
- Send home mailers to inform employees and family members about depression and wellness-related programs and services.
- Recruit workplace “wellness champions” at each major site to help spread the word about programs such as the EAP and work/life programs and how to access them. Wellness champions provide an important level of peer support and help promote programs and reduce stigma.
- Implement programs that help employees navigate their benefits and engage with appropriate programs and services.
- Require managers, supervisors, and HR staff to attend trainings about the signs of employee distress and referral options.
Incorporate optional emotional wellness assessments into short- and long-term disability, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) information, etc.
- Coordinate with disability carriers to include flyers on depression in disability packets. These flyers can focus on the high incidence of depression with many medical illnesses and encourage identification and intervention.
- Ensure that all disability assessments include a focus on emotional wellness and depression screening.
- Include depression screening as an optional part of FMLA application.
- Develop integration and “warm transfer” protocols between the disability administrator and the EAP or behavioral health program to immediately refer members who score positive for depression, stress, or substance use disorder.
Consider a front-line program to identify issues early and to refer individuals to appropriate resources.
- Offer an EAP as an early prevention, assistance, and referral program.
- Offer work/life programs that can address daily living stressors.
- Consider offering a depression intensive case management program.
Integrate emotional wellness with general medical and wellness programs.
- Encourage depression screenings for teens and children.
- Promote adult depression screening through primary care physicians.
- Create workflows with the medical plan to ensure referrals to the EAP or behavioral health program from disease management, health coaching, or nurse-line programs.
- Build in referral to the EAP for members who score positive on the health risk assessment (HRA) for depression, stress, or substance use disorder.
- Develop integrated communications to build messaging about behavioral health wellness into messaging about that of overall health. For example, in a company-wide communication regarding health and wellness or a company’s commitment to a culture of well-being, make sure to incorporate critical messages about the availability of EAP and work/life services.
Offer comprehensive mental health benefits.
- Seek consultation about the mental health benefit plan design to maximize effectiveness.
- Ensure comprehensive mental health benefits are in alignment with medical benefits and compliant with mental health parity regulations.
- Consider reduced co-pays for an evaluation appointment to reduce barriers to care.
Include a disease management or care management program for high-risk employees.
- Identify high-risk employees and their family members through data analysis and predictive modeling and target that group with prevention and treatment information.
- Consider offering a depression program or intensive case management program.
- Develop a partnership between the medical disease management program and behavioral health or EAP programs to ensure appropriate referral and track outcomes.
Consider offering incentives.
- Build benefit/service awareness into incentives program. For example, employees can earn points in an overall incentive program by participating in an orientation or training about programs and resources relevant to early identification and treatment of depression.
- Consider offering incentives for employees (and family members) to complete an online training about depression.
Create a dashboard report with metrics that gauge employee emotional wellness.
- Have regularly scheduled meetings to evaluate data from EAP and behavioral health programs to identify trends and gaps.
- Use metrics to consider areas where additional prevention or programming is needed.
- Consider offering an employee depression survey annually to assess for impact of initiatives and programs.