When it comes to the workplace, a new study reveals that millennials report the highest rates of depression.
According to Chicago’s Bensinger, DuPont & Associates (BDA), one in five millennials (those born between 1978 and 1999) who sought employee assistance or advice reported experiencing depression.
In contrast, 16 per cent of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and 16 per cent Gen Xers (1965 and 1977) reported depression – and it probably has little to do with the fact that they’re closer to retirement.
The company drew results from data collected from its clients over an 18-month period.
Of the impacts of depression when it comes to the workplace, the most common across all age groups is presenteeism. Meaning, an employee shows up to work physically but is unable to function at full capacity due to their depression.
When it comes to presenteeism, it affected 70 per cent of millennials in the study, 68 per cent of depressed Gen X’ers, and 63 per cent of Boomers. Depression affects more than the inability to function to one’s full capacity. Other effects of depression in the workplace include missing work all together, tense work relationships or conflicts, and receiving verbal or written disciplinary action as a result of depression.
What’s not clear is why millennials are so depressed in the first place.
Perhaps – thanks to recent campaigns designed to break the stigma surrounding mental illness – they are simply more open to admitting to it. Not to mention, social media – complete with its reminders of the successes, promotions, and bonuses of your “friends” – likely has more of a negative impact on the younger generation of workers.
Finally, the career competition is stiffer than ever, while the stability offered in things like generous benefit packages become things of the past in many professions.
Whatever the cause, the study found that – whole major depression affects 10 per cent of American employees, 75 per cent of those with depression don’t receive formal treatment.
Here in Canada, at least 500,000 Canadians miss work every week as the result of a mental illness. That’s not entirely surprising, given that one in five Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem in every given year.
Both south of the border and in Canada, it’s clear that more work is needed to address the effects of depression in the workplace. The findings are important when it comes to creating workplaces that cater to five distinct generations – the traditionalists (born 1927-1945), Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z (born after 1999) — who all grew up under very different circumstances.
Based on the report’s findings, BDA urges workplaces to adopt additional training and informational campaigns for employers and employees alike to detect signs of depression.
Find out more about the effects of mental illness on the workplace from CAMH here.