Some of the largest employers in Europe including Royal Mail Group, Barclays and BT have launched a programme to raise awareness of depression in the workplace.
‘Target Depression in the Workplace' joins senior European executives for the first time to address and assess depression in the workplace.
Senior executives from Unilever and Deutsche Post DHL to name but a few, will join in the initiative to recommend tools and resources that aim to enable company executives to better identify and support staff with depression, as well as promote good mental health in the workplace.
Collectively, the companies employ 600,000 people in Europe and generate revenues of almost €200bn annually.
According to recent figures, one in 10 employees in Europe - equivalent to more than 34.6m - could be at risk of taking time off work due to depression and its cognitive symptoms, with a potential loss of one billion working days.
Furthermore, depression has a direct impact on company profit due to the cost of presenteeism and absenteeism.
Cognitive symptoms of depression which include concentration difficulties, indecisiveness and/or forgetfulness, are present up to 94% of the time in an episode of depression and cause significant impairment in work function.
Individuals suffering from depression report an average of 5.6 hours in health-related lost productivity time, compared to those without depression.
BT Group chief medical officer and Target Depression in the Workplace steering committee adviser Dr Paul Litchfield said the company would share its own experience of dealing with depression in the workplace with other businesses.
"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," he explained.
"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."
Thursday 12 March
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