10/09/2012 01:52 EDT | Updated 10/09/2012 01:55 EDT

Canada Workplace Depression: Over 1 In 5 Employees Report Current Depression


The mental health of Canada's workforce is in need of a close look. Twenty-two per cent of Canadian employees say they currently suffer from depression, according to an Ipsos Reid survey. Another 16 per cent, meanwhile, say they have experienced depression in the past.

The good news behind these findings is that more managers are now better equipped at handling workplace depression than they were in 2007, Mary Ann Baynton of Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace noted.

"In 2007, only one in five [managers] had received any training on how to intervene with emotionally distressed employees; now one-third do," she said in a press release.

But that's still not enough. Jan Wong, columnist and author of 'Out Of The Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness,' suggests human resources employees still need more education around mental health.

"I really think human resources folks need some fundamental training. They need to be educated about mental illness. As soon as they see a behavioural change, they have to do something," she told the Huffington Post Canada in May.

The Public Health Agency of Canada lists 17 symptoms of depression, including insomnia, appetite change, and distancing from family and friends. The agency urges anyone experiencing at least five symptoms for over two to three weeks to contact a doctor. Anyone experiencing recurring suicidal thoughts should seek help immediately.

Depression symptoms appearing in the workplace may include less productivity, a decrease in enthusiasm and difficulty making decisions, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

However, symptoms may become difficult to perceive as mental health stigma still persists, particularly in the workforce. The survey also showed that one in 10 Canadians believe depressed people choose to be depressed.

The Ipsos Reid survey continues earlier research from 2007 and 2009. It analysed 6,624 online surveys, 2,317 from supervisors and the remainder from employees outside of management positions.

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