A group of major European employers have launched a drive to combat the impact depression and its symptoms have in the workplace.
Signs of depression include attending work whilst ill and taking time off with symptoms including concentration difficulties, indecisiveness, and/or forgetfulness.
Professor Martin Knapp, Professor of Social Policy and Co-Director of LSE Health and Social Care said: “The catastrophic impact depression can have on the individual and their family is well acknowledged, but largely unresolved is the impact depression has on work.
“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.”
Some of the largest employers in Europe, including Royal Mail Group Ltd, BT Group plc, Barclays, Unilever and Deutsche Post DHL, that collectively employ over 600,000 people in Europe and generate revenues of almost €200 billion annually, have formed a Steering Committee with the aim to come up with concrete action to help other businesses reduce the impact of depression.
The Steering Comm ittee includes representation from the Federation of European Employers and the International Labour Organization.
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.”