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The Depression Calculator for Employers

Model Limitations

The Depression Impact Model was developed based on peer-reviewed literature and available pharmaceutical data. Our goal was to develop a methodologically sound, conservative model to estimate the impact of depression and the benefits of basic medical care and enhanced care in the workforce. However, as with any calculator, there are some limitations to keep in mind.

  • The model uses data from a variety of studies, many of which are based on self-reported information. A relatively large percentage or employees may not report that they were not as productive at work or underestimate the number of days of work they missed due to depression. There may be some reporting bias that results in an underreporting of days missed on the job or productivity impacts. If so, the calculations of the net benefit from treatment are likely to underestimate the improvement in absenteeism and presenteeism from treatment.
  • The SAMHSA prevalence data includes people who are employed and unemployed. The prevalence is higher among people who are employed; therefore, it is important to understand that the actual depression costs may be higher than what is estimated in the calculator.
  • The Depression Impact Model relies on the human capital approach to represent the value of time missed from work or from lowered productivity. This approach assumes that an employee’s compensation is directly related to the output, or productivity, of that employee.
  • When an employee is absent, the firm may replace the employee with a temporary worker, incurring replacement costs that are likely to be equal to or higher than the absent employee’s compensation. Or, the firm may elect not to replace the employee and suffer a loss in output which is also related to the employee’s compensation. In both cases, the employee’s daily compensation is used as a proxy for the impact to the firm.
  • Can the firm “get by” without replacing the worker at all, relying on coworkers to help make up the work or by deferring the work to another day? Almost every workplace has experienced this to some degree. However, the overall management of a workforce (especially for larger companies) does not typically rely on stopgap measures. A firm that experiences a significant number of lost days due to absenteeism or presenteeism will be facing either replacement costs or loss of output.
  • Replacement of workers comes with an initial training phase and costs associated with training. These costs are not included in the model. You can expect the costs may be higher than what is projected here if an employee is away from work for an extended period.