Depression Assessment

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Health Assured team

21 January 2022

Research shows that poor mental health among employee’s costs UK employers up to £45bn each year. These costs stem from absenteeism, loss of productivity and increased employee turnover.

One in six British workers will suffer from a mental health condition like anxiety or depression. These conditions will likely affect a big chunk of your workforce at some point.

In this guide, we’ll cover different depression assessment tools used by employers and how they can help.

What is depression?

Depression is a severe low mood that lasts for an extended time and affects everyday life.

Common symptoms include hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and exhaustion. This can make life at work extremely difficult for employees.

A depression assessment can help you to assess an employee’s ability to carry on working. This intervention can also help you put the next steps in place and support employees to recovery.

Preventing the need for a depression assessment

Before you resort to depression assessments, try offering mental health training to line managers.

When you address mental health concerns early, you can often resolve them without the need for costly intervention later down the line.

But often, line managers lack the training to spot the signs of a mental health issue or handle these difficult conversations.

Depression self-assessment

If an employee is unsure whether they have depression, you can direct them to this depression self- assessment tool from the NHS.

This depression assessment questionnaire can help to assess if it’s depression they are suffering from. Employees can then make an appointment with their GP to discuss their mental health further.

When an employee tells you they have depression

When an employee tells you that they have depression, make sure you are accepting, non-judgemental and supportive.

The stigma of mental health conditions has improved over the years, but it can still be a sensitive area to approach at work. Employees may feel embarrassed, fearful of judgement and worried about how it will affect their future in the workplace.

Overcoming this step can be one of the biggest challenges to recovery. But from here, employees can get the help and support they need to return to normal life in and outside of work.

As an employer, you can ask employees for a fit note to understand what the employee’s mental health problems are and how they affect them.

The note may also cover potential work adjustments that will help. Sometimes this note can be enough to understand the condition and how you as an employer can help.

How to assess depression in the workplace

Because mental health conditions aren’t visible, it’s often difficult to know exactly how an employee’s life is impacted.

That’s where depression assessment tools come in. You can ask employers to take a depression assessment test to understand how the depression affects the employee's work life.

As an employer, you can refer employees to Occupational Health if they have a mental health problem that is affecting their life at work.

Employers tend to use Occupational Health when an employee's condition is causing them to take regular time off work. The Occupational Health Assessment questions for depression will determine whether an employee is fit for work.

The occupational health assessment for depression may also offer adjustments to make life easier at work for the employee. Making these adjustments will support the employee’s recovery.

These adjustments could include:

  • Flexible working hours.
  • Regular breaks.
  • A phased return to work.
  • An alteration of work duties.
  • Working from home.
  • Adapting the work environment.

As mentioned earlier, mental health in the workplace can cost employers significant amounts of money. Making these small, effective, and cost-friendly changes is a good way to prevent big pay-outs later down the line.

There’ is also a legal requirement for you to make these adjustments for workers with disabilities or physical or mental health conditions. Employers must make reasonable adjustments when:

  • They’re aware that an employee has depression.
  • The employee asks for adjustments.
  • When the depression is making an employee’s job difficult.
  • When the depression affects an employee’s sickness absence or return to work.

If the adjustments are reasonable, the employer must make them: providing that the changes are practical, affordable and unharmful to the safety of others.

The type of adjustments required will vary between roles and industries. But the Occupational Health assessment for depression should guide you to implement effective changes.

Depression discrimination

Employers must ensure they handle depression assessments with care. It’s a sensitive area. Depression can qualify as a disability in some cases, which means that employees are legally protected by the Equality Act (2010).

Depression classes as a disability under the Equality Act (2010) when all the below apply:

  • It lasts, or will last at least 12 months.
  • It negatively impacts an employee’s life at work.
  • It impacts an employee's ability to carry out everyday activities.

Employers have a duty of care to look after staff. You must protect employees from disability discrimination of all kinds. So, ensure you handle all depression assessments sensitively in the working environment.

Get help with depression assessments with Health Assured

Our professional counsellors can support your employees with depression. We provide a 24/7 employee assistance programme (EAP) that’ is open 365 days a year. With guidance and support, employees can quickly get back on the road to recovery.

Depression assessments are a difficult process and often, employers may be unsure of how to proceed. We can support managers and HR representatives through these difficult times with guidance from our legal teams.

Arrange a call back from a wellbeing expert today on 0844 891 0352 for help combating depression at work.

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