Aligning screening with early intervention is an essential mental health strategy, including for employers who are committed to workplace well-being. As October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, it felt timely to discuss why screening is so important, how employers can leverage publicly available resources from trusted organizations, and remind their workforce about resources and services that are available to them to address their mental health needs.
The mental health field has long struggled with a fundamental challenge. We know that timely intervention is critical, yet there is an average eleven-year delay between onset of first symptoms and the first intervention.
Widely accessible screening seeks to dramatically shorten this window, so people can get help early, when it will be most effective. Thankfully, screening availability and uptake are growing across a range of channels, like doctor’s offices, schools, and workplaces. According to the CDC, screenings, examinations, and health education were provided at 60% of community health center visits. And a record 5.4 million people took a mental health screening in 2021 with the Mental Health America Online Screening Program — up 500% since 2019.
The greatest benefits come when screening links seamlessly with options for action and intervention. For employers, these benefits include greater productivity and a healthier team. There’s health and economic benefit to investing in treatment, a WHO-led study found that every $1 USD invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety results in a return of $4 USD in improved health and ability to work.
There are a variety of tools for organizations that want to begin offering mental health screening and resources to their employees. Many of these tools are designed for the workplace, with measures to ensure confidentiality and privacy, including through the process of finding follow-up resources and care.
This October, employers can join the growing movement to drive widespread mental health screening, earlier intervention, and ultimately better outcomes. Pairing screening with resources offers a demonstrated strategy to support employees’ well-being throughout their mental health journey.