Blog Post #1348 – Depressed Workers Avoid Help

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (Nov. 2015)

More than half of a group of surveyed workers with symptoms of depression did not recognize the need for help, according to a recent study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

The study, ‘Barriers to Mental Health Service Use among Workers with Depression and Work Productivity’, was published in the July issue of the ‘Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’. The findings are based on the responses of 2219 working adults, aged between 18 and 65, who had been in the workforce during the previous year in Ontario. Participants had completed a questionnaire by telephone or online. About two-fifths of the respondents experience significant symptoms of depression; out of that group, 52.8% did not feel a need to seek treatment.

“They don’t necessarily recognize that they could ask for help or that they need help,” explains Dr. Carolyn Dewa, the study’s lead author and head of the ‘Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health’ at CAMH. “That is one of the biggest barriers to getting help, and if we removed that barrier, we can decrease the losses of productivity by about a third.”

Dr. Dewa stresses that it was not a case of workers consciously rejecting help, but one of them being oblivious to their symptoms of depression. “The thing with mental illness is, everybody has an off day, and so they don’t recognize that many off days that are progressively more difficult to function.” As a result, many workers believe that all they have to do is struggle through these feelings until they go away.

A CAMH statement issued on October 7, 2015 states that research on this topic in the United States and Australia has yielded similar results. The CAMH study measured common symptoms of depression in respondents as well as their perceived need for health, Dr. Dewa notes. “We used a standardized instrument, and based on that instrument, it indicates that people are at a stage where they might benefit from help-seeking.”

More awareness of the symptoms of mental illness could encourage workers to get needed treatment, Dr. Dewa suggests. She also cites new programs from the mental health commission of Canada that could potentially help.

“They have been found defective to help people recognize when they need help-and actually, in the early stages, how to help themselves is well with stress and those types of skills,” she notes.

My opinion

The day-to-day stress, in almost every workplace, forces people to deal with potential side effects which do include depression. Many people exercise, read, get involved in many activities to forget the stress they experienced on the job that particular day.

It is great to see that reports are being actively pursued and that potential corrective action will go a long way and encourage workers to seek help and recognize symptoms of depression that they may be experiencing.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259 We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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