545 Workplace practices and policies to support workers with depression

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Abstract

Introduction

The burden associated with the effects of depression in the workplace is extensive. Workers with depression lose more health-related productive time, have higher rates of absenteeism and short-term disability, and experience higher rates of job turnover than those without depression. Our objective is to synthesise evidence from the scientific literature, practice evidence (workplace policies and practices), and experiences from OHS stakeholders.

Methods

Our study sample is OHS stakeholders: workers, managers, and consultants in workplaces from our contact database (approximately 700 OHS contacts across Canada willing to be contacted for research). Data collection includes a web-based survey, focus groups (ongoing), and interviews (ongoing) with stakeholder representatives from multiple sectors. We are collecting information about workplace practices and policies to prevent productivity losses, promote stay-at-work, and support return-to-work for workers with depression. The synthesis is a two stage process: first synthesising practice evidence gathered from stakeholders and then combining that with evidence from the scientific literature.

Results

Preliminary results (n=400, 73% workers, 27% managers/consultants) reveal a willingness among participants to share their experiences with depression and work. Workers report practices related to non-judgemental listening and external supports were most helpful to them. Managers/consultants suggest non-judgemental listening and employee assistance programs were most helpful. However, workers often feel workplace support is lacking and report non-supportive supervisors as a key barrier to receiving needed support. Managers indicate a lack of training and knowledge about depression are the main barriers to providing support to workers. Workers did not feel providing information was helpful whereas managers often did.

Conclusion

Preliminary results reveal the importance of non-judgemental listening as a workplace support for depression. However, responses reveal workers and managers do not have similar experiences of workplace support. Synthesising practice and scientific evidence will help guide policies and practices to support workers with depression.

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