Benefits | Depression Interventions

Health benefits for depression1-3

Employee health benefits are part of an overall compensation package and affect an employee’s willingness to seek preventive services and clinical care.

Provide coverage for employees for low cost screening, diagnostic and treatment services for depression

  • Depression screening and treatment with psychotherapy and medications can be highly effective. Research suggests that 80% of patients with depression will improve with treatment
  • The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening adults for depression in clinical practices that have systems in place to assure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and careful follow-up. Several depression screening tools used by primary care physicians, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) are short and simple to administer. These screening tools consist of standard questions that assess the number and severity of an individual’s depressive symptoms. The screening results are used by primary care physicians to assure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and careful follow-up
  • The American Academy of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) supports the use of clinical depression screening tools to identify employees at risk for depression
  • A recent study showed a 6.1% increase in productivity and 22.8% fewer absences over two years for depressed individuals who received regular phone calls to encourage them to continue with depression treatment and medication. Employers saved more than $2600 annually for each employee
  • Most patients with depression present and are treated in the primary care setting. Patients who screen positive for depression and are diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) diagnostic interview should begin treatment in the primary care or specialty mental health care setting or be referred for treatment to a mental health professional
  • A primary care treatment plan can include pharmacological therapy (such as tricyclic anti-depressants and selective-serotonin reuptake-inhibitors [SSRIs]), psychotherapy, or a combination of the two

Provide coverage for screening and counseling to reduce alcohol misuse

  • Other mental health disorders frequently co-occur with depression. For people struggling with co-occurring mental health and depression disorders, physical safety and overall health risks are greater; the impairment of life skills is greater; and the chances for successful treatment are much less
  • Depression and other mental health problems often lead to alcohol and substance misuse problems and may predate the substance misuse by 4-6 years; alcohol or other drugs may be used as a form of self-medication to alleviate the symptoms of the mental disorder
  • In some cases, alcohol and substance misuse precedes the development of depression and other mental health problems. For instance, anxiety and depression may be brought on as a response to stressors from broken relationships, lost employment, and other situations directly related to a drug-using lifestyle
  • A person with diagnosed depression should be screened and treated as needed for other mental health problems including alcohol and substance misuse

1.  Campbell KP, Lanza A, Dixon R, Chattopadhyay S, Molinari N, Finch RA, editors. A Purchaser’s Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage. Washington, DC: National Business Group on Health; 2006.

2.  U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996.

3.  Rost K, Smith JL, Dickinson M. The effect of improving primary care depression management on employee absenteeism and productivity. A randomized trial. Med Care. 2004 Dec;42(12):1202-10.