BT Group and Unilever are among the employers that have launched a report featuring fresh insights into the issue of depression in the workplace.
The Depression in the workplace in Europe: new insights from business leaders report has been published to coincide with Depression Awareness Week, from 26 April to 3 May 2014.
It includes information on the mental health policies of European organisations, such as BT Group, Deutsche Post DHL, H. Lundbeck A/S, Ogilvy and Mather Group and Unilever, in a bid to improve the management of depression by employers across Europe.
The large European employers formed a steering committee, called Targeting Depression in the Workplace, in October 2013, with the aim of developing concrete action to help organisations reduce the impact of depression in the workplace.
The report found that 55% of employees diagnosed with depression in Europe take time off work due to the illness, equating to more than 38 million people.
It also calculated that employers could save at least 30% of lost productivity costs by implementing workplace policies that address mental ill health.
BT’s programme, Good Health, Good Work, has already reduced sickness absence rates due to depression by 30%.
Unilever is aiming for a 10% reduction by 2015 in work-related mental ill health cases and working days lost to mental ill health.
Tim Munden, vice president HR at Unilever UK, said: “Depression costs European employers an estimated £77 billion a year, yet despite this many workplaces underestimate its impact.
“At Unilever, we firmly believe addressing depression through our mental health policies will benefit both our people and our business.”
Julia Ingall, talent management director, UK and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Ogilvy and Mather Group, added: “It is vital that employers across Europe are proactive in promoting a healthy work environment that supports employees with depression.
“Depression is an illness that many, including those in HR, feel unqualified to deal with, so we hope this report will help inform, educate and address these challenges.”
Bill Wilkerson, executive chairman of Mental Health International and chair of Target Depression in the Workplace, said: “Case study examples shared in this report demonstrate how employers can encourage early detection and management of depression, when equipped with the right policies and resources.
“By taking action now, we can preserve the future wellbeing of workers and their families, as well as deliver benefits to employers and the economy.”