Program Showcase: Postpartum RTW

DMEC Staff@Work

Smart Employer Programs Can Minimize Postpartum Depression at Work

By Jennifer Kurtz, PsyD, LP

Clinical and Forensic Psychologist; Clinical Director
R3 Continuum

With the powerful impact of postpartum depression on employees (see my personal experience below), employers are also negatively impacted. The health and well-being of employees is directly linked to overall productivity, which in turn affects business profits.6 It’s estimated to cost $6,223 per mother in lost productivity (absenteeism and presenteeism) if a mother’s postpartum depression goes untreated.7

Even worse, untreated postpartum depression may cause women to quit their jobs, especially if they are not receiving the needed support and flexibility to balance their new parenting role with their work responsibilities; often they choose to be a full-time mom as they perceive they can’t do both. One company found it costs an average of $75,000 per employee who quits after their maternity leave to recruit and train a replacement. Another company found it had to pay about 150% of the mother’s salary to replace her if she quits.7

Postpartum depression also affects employer healthcare costs. Women with postpartum depression incurred 90% higher healthcare costs than women without. Mothers with postpartum depression are four times more likely to visit the emergency room than mothers without postpartum depression. The extra healthcare costs amount to about $700 per woman in the first three postpartum months.3

To mitigate this situation for employees and save their own bottom lines, employers are investing in prevention and intervention.


Education should be embedded in every step of a workplace postpartum depression prevention initiative to identify those at risk, eliminate stigma, foster a supportive work environment, and provide access to quality treatment and support resources.

All employees should be educated on mental illness, including postpartum depression. Supervisors need to know what to look for, what the risk factors are,8 and what factors have a protective effect against postpartum depression.9 Employers need to have an open discussion with employees about the myths and facts about postpartum depression to counteract stigma.6 They need to understand that postpartum depression can be debilitating and, importantly, impacts both women and men.4

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