UK Depression-Related Calls Jump 40 Percent

A Canadian Insurance company has reported a 40 percent increase in depression-related calls in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the first quarter of 2014. 

The Changing Numbers

The Canada Life Group’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), known as EmployeeCare, offers telephone help with health issues alongside its income protection policies. In early 2015, one in five callers asked about mental health issues (primarily stress, depression, and anxiety), which is a 5 percent increase from the same period in 2014. 

Depression calls showed the biggest growth, increasing 63 percent over 2013 figures. Almost a third of mental health related calls received by the EAP during Q1 were about depression.

Stress still represents the largest percentage of mental health related calls at 43 percent, which is a 9 percent increase over the prior year. Anxiety calls were down by 11 percent over the prior year. 

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Canada Life didn’t reveal whether the labels were attached by the callers themselves or by the professionals receiving the calls. If the callers are categorizing their own concerns, they could be influenced to choose the ‘depression’ label by advertising campaigns, media coverage, and other popular usage of the term.  

How Widespread Is The Problem?

The analysis is reportedly based on 22,250 calls over a five-year period. On average, that’s fewer than 5,000 calls per year, and only 1,000 of those would be mental health calls. In 2015, 31 percent of those were calling about depression; that’s fewer than 310 people, and a 40 percent increase over the prior year would be fewer than 90 people. That’s a large portion of the mental health callers, but a very small sample size overall. Large increases are often caused by small denominators, and that seems to be the case with these numbers. 

A 40 percent increase is statistically significant and certainly bears watching even if it actually represents fewer than 90 individuals. With suicide rates in the UK at alarmingly high rates, especially among men, these are numbers that bear watching.