New insight into mental health

Attending work while suffering a depressive illness could help employees better manage their depression more than taking a sickness absence from work, a new study has found. 

The research has implications for boards who are considering an organisations’ human resource policies and the impact these policies have on strategic outcomes.

The collaborative study between the University Of Melbourne and the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania estimated the long-term costs and health outcomes of depression-related absence as compared to individuals with depression who continue to work.

Researchers calculated the costs based on lost productivity, expenses associated with medication and use of health services as well as the cost of replacing an employee who is absent from work and unwell.

It found that continuing to work while experiencing a depressive illness may offer employees certain health benefits, while depression-related absence from work offers no significant improvement in employee health outcomes or quality of life.

It suggests that future workplace mental health promotions strategies should include policies that focus on promoting continued work attendance via offering flexible hours and modification of tasks or working environment.

Lead researcher Dr Fiona Cocker from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health said a greater understanding of the costs and consequences of both absenteeism and presenteeism would allow for more informed recommendations to be made to the benefit of employees and their employers.

To read a fully copy of the study, please click here.