Thursday, June 28, 2018

Depression in the workplace the focus of Utah County Health Department program

Braley Dodson, Daily Herald

An employee with depression may be at work, but that doesn’t mean their mind is there.

“You might be there physically, but you’re not there and it’s not going to be productive for them to have you there,” said Marla Brannum, the injury prevention program coordinator for the Utah County Health Department.

Utah County Health DepartmentGetting companies to recognize the role mental health plays in the workplace is one reason why the Utah County Health Department and Spanish Fork Active and Healthy Community are putting on the Working Minds: Suicide Prevention in the Workplace workshop Thursday.

People with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and have 11.5 days of reduced productivity over three months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two-hour training teaches companies how to get more employees to take advantage of employee assistance programs, suggests the creation of a return to work plan for employees who have a suicide attempt or who have a family member who attempts suicide and encourages that sick days can be used for a mental health day.

Work is a second home for most people, but other workshops only focus on suicide prevention at the individual level.

“This is the only one out there specifically geared for HR and management,” Brannum said.

Working Minds is still a relatively new training for the health department. Brannum said ideally the department would go to individual businesses for the training, but it’s been a struggle to get into them. Thursday’s workshop is open to the community and available for any business in Utah County. Workshops next year will be dependent on funding.

The workshop aims to help companies understand that employees with a mental health condition aren’t “wild card” employees and tries to pass on the message that it’s ok to take time off to work on mental health. It gives companies tools to make changes and encourages changes to policies or procedures.

The workshop also addresses the signs that someone could be struggling with mental health or considering suicide, including a sudden or drastic change in behavior, a loss of a family member or mentor or someone who has asked another to take care of their pet.

While the focus is usually on teenagers, Brannum said the highest rates of suicide are adult men, which can go overlooked in suicide prevention efforts.

“If these men who are dealing with this stuff don’t have an outlet and they don’t think it’s ok to take that outlet, it is going to perpetuate the problem,” Brannum said.

The next Working Minds session will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at 40 S. Main St. in Spanish Fork. The training is free. Registration is required and can be done by calling Brannum at (801) 851-7513

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