RTW Plan Needed For Employees Treated For Depression

Return-To-Work Strategies Required For Those Suffering From depression – Conference Board report

According to a Conference Board of Canada report published in September, businesses and organizations need to have return-to-work strategies in place for employees treated for depression.

The report states that after a depression-related work absence a majority of returning workers have difficulty performing tasks which involve concentration, memory and decision-making.

Highlights of the report:

  • Approximately 16 per cent of women and 11 per cent of men will experience a major depression in their lifetimes.
  • A more critical factor than absenteeism is presenteeism—where an individual is working but not fully productive.
  • Managers need training to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and ensure employees receive the support required.

According to the report, the specific strategies and accommodations required will depend on the individual’s circumstances but might include reducing distractions to improve concentration or providing minutes of meetings to assist with memory and follow-up tasks.

“Individuals who experience depression can show a significant decline in their work productivity and problems can arise even years after the period of depression. This has a significant impact for employers in terms of lost productivity,” said Louise Chenier, Senior Research Associate.

“It’s important to stress that once an accommodation measure has been identified and implemented successfully, the employee should be treated like all other employees. The temptation is to lower expectations. This approach can lead to inequities between employees and perceptions of unfairness.”


The findings of this study were presented on Wednesday, October 30, at the Conference Board’s Wellness and Sustainable Health Care Summit in Toronto.

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