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UK employers collaborate to tackle depression

Some of the UK’s largest employers, including Royal Mail, BT, Barclays and Unilever have today launched a drive to conquer the impact of depression and its cognitive effects in the workplace. They are joining other European businesses in a programme to “target depression in the workplace”.

The Target Depression in the Workplace initiative aims to recommend concrete tools and resources that will enable company executives to better identify and support employees with depression as well as promote good mental health in the workplace.

This is the first time senior European executives have come together to assess and address depression in the workplace.

Research gathered by the initiative shows that one in four people in the UK have been diagnosed with depression and 15% of people in UK have taken time off work due to depression.

The estimated cost of mental health problems to UK businesses is approximately &pound1,000 per employee, almost &pound26 billion per year. The total cost to the UK economy is estimated at &pound105bn per year.

Across Europe one in ten employees have taken time off due to depression, with estimates that up to one billion working days are lost each year across the European continent as a consequence of depression.

Martin Knapp, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, commented, “New research has shown that an average of 36 days is taken off work per episode of depression.  Across the European working population this could mean something approaching 1 billion working days lost to depression.  The economic impact is potentially enormous, and this does not take into consideration the reduced productivity of people who keep on working while they are depressed.”

Dr Paul Litchfield, BT Group plc chief medical officer and Target Depression in the Workplace Steering Committee advisor, said, “Mental health is the dominant workplace health issue of our time.  Work can either be beneficial or harmful to mental health and employers can make a major contribution to the wellbeing of society by their actions,” said “Combatting depression has been a priority for BT for many years and is an integral part of our Mental Health Framework which has delivered significant business benefits as well as helping very many of our people.  Through the Target Depression in the Workplace initiative, we are looking forward to working with other employers to drive best practice to a higher level and to disseminate it as widely as possible.”

Target Depression in the Workplace is chaired by Mr Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman Mental Health International. 


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