While measures to increase training across the board are needed, managers are well aware of the importance of doing something when an employee shows signs of emotional distress. Eighty-four per cent of managers and supervisors surveyed said they believe it's part of their job to intervene in such cases, according to the results, based on 6,624 online surveys – 4,307 among employees and 2,317 among managers and supervisors.
"The really good news is that more managers have received training in how to intervene," Mary Ann Baynton, program director at the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health, said in a news release Tuesday.
"We're not there yet, though. Nearly two thirds of managers are still seeking better training to address this type of situation. They are asking for more support and flexibility from upper-level management and human resources."
Survey results still indicate that employers are perceived to be more responsive to physical health issues than to mental health concerns, said Mike Schwartz, senior vice-president of Group Benefits for Great West Life and a centre director.
"The consensus appears to be that it is easier for workplaces to deal with physical disabilities than with mental health conditions – perhaps because employers may not be aware of available resources to help them do so, or because employees are less likely to self-identify as needing support." Mental illness in the workplace is costly for business.
A report last year by the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health characterized the cost of mental-health problems at work as a "tsunami of economic loss."
It put the annual toll at $51-billion (U.S.) in Canada, or 4 per cent of gross domestic product, and $1.1-trillion across North America and Europe.
Among the encouraging signs in the latest Ipsos Reid survey results:
In 2012, 14 per cent of employees surveyed said they have been diagnosed as suffering from depression. That's down from 18 per cent in 2007.
In 2012, 31 per cent of managers or supervisors said they have received training to help them identify and help employees showing signs of depression. That's up from 18 per cent in 2007.
Of employees suffering from depression, 61 per cent said in the 2012 survey that they receive no support or very little support from human resources, while 61 per cent said they get some or a great deal of support from co-workers.
Respondents are most likely to indicate that their employer is accommodating of those with physical health problems and less accommodating of those experiencing stress, anxiety or panic disorders, or bouts of depression. In 2012, 33 per cent said their employer is not at all accommodating or somewhat unaccommodating of stress, panic or depression, up from 30 per cent in 2007.
Proving that someone is actually depressed is also an issue. Seven in 10 – 71 per cent, up 11 points from 2007 – supervisors or managers said they agree that there needs to be a way to verify that someone is actually suffering from depressions before being given any special consideration at work. Three in 10 – 29 per cent – disagree.
Ipsos Reid measures the accuracy of its online polls using a so-called "credibility interval." This particular poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points for employees and 2.3 percentage points for managers and supervisors.
The greater the sample size, the lower the credibility interval. The survey – done for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health - was conducted between July 18 and July 24 and the sample was drawn from the Ipsos Reid Household Panel.