ISP in the Workplace

An estimated 20% of workers suffer from depression, substance abuse or another mental disorder that can severely impact their ability to function. Among workers who experience depression, one in 10 has taken time off work, and many more have impaired concentration and work performance while on the job. Lost productivity due to mental disorders costs the U.S. over $100 billion each year.

Only one in five people with a mental disorder receives the care they need to treat the condition. Those who need help the most are often the least likely to utilize available services, most often because they fear that admitting they have a problem could put their job at risk.

workplace

The anonymous Interactive Screening Program (ISP) provides a simple and effective way to reach out to at-risk workers and encourage them to get help. By proactively engaging those in need, the ISP supports employee mental health and helps create a workplace culture that recognizes that stress and depression are common and treatable problems in today's fast-paced world.

HOW Does the ISP Work?

The ISP provides a web-based method of outreach that start with a brief online Stress & Depression Questionnaire (also called the Self-Check Quiz) that employees are invited to complete. The questionnaire incorporates the PHQ-9, a 9-item standardized depression screening scale, as well as questions about suicidal ideation and attempts, problems related to depression such as anger and anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorder symptoms. The questionnaire contains 35 questions and normally takes less than 10 minutes to complete. To fully protect their anonymity, workers identify themselves only with a self-assigned user ID.

Each person who submits the questionnaire receives a personal written response from a work place counselor, offering options for follow-up evaluation and treatment. Workers may "dialogue" with the counselor online while maintaining their anonymity, schedule a telephone or in-person meeting, or request a referral for treatment or support services.

Each company or workplace that implements the ISP has its own customized, secure website that houses the Stress & Depression Questionnaire and supports all online exchanges between workers and counselors. To learn more about the ISP, contact the Program Director at isp@afsp.org. For additional information about bringing the ISP to your workplace, please complete the online Interest Form

WHAT RESOURCES are Needed to Implement the ISP?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) license includes:

  • A customized secure website, which includes a separate administrative section where program data are tabulated for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
  • Counselor training in all program functions, including data management and utilization.
  • On-going technical assistance and support.

The employer provides the ISP counselors, typically through its Employee Assistance Program or other counseling and support services.

The ISP is ADAPTABLE

The ISP has been adapted for use with police officers through the Boston Police Department’s Peer Support Unit. The adaptation for corporate employees is also being used in partnership with a major international company and its Employee Assistance Program.

Sgt. Brian Fleming

"In January 2013, the Peer Support Unit of the Boston Police Department launched the anonymous Self-Check Quiz, an adaptation of AFSP's Interactive Screening Program. Over the next nine months, we had a cautious, limited roll-out, wanting to be careful that the officers saw the program as safe and totally anonymous, and not connected to department administration. Sixty police officers submitted the online Self-Check Quiz. Six came in for treatment, and at least two of those were at high risk for suicide. If the program ended today, this would have made it well worth it. It also made us realize we were being too conservative. We sent out a department-wide email about the program, which resulted in a flurry of quizzes being submitted. This very vital tool has already saved lives and is sure to save many more. I want to thank Dr. Ann Haas and Maggie Mortali for their unwavering support for our being the first Police Department in the nation to implement the Self-Check Quiz." - Sergeant Brian Fleming, Director of the Peer Support Unit, Boston Police Department

The ISP is a BEST PRACTICE

To learn more about the ISP, contact the Program Director at isp@afsp.org. For additional information about bringing the ISP to your workplace, please complete the online Interest Form.

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