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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: UK workers ‘most depressed in Europe’


UK workers are the most depressed in Europe, with just over a quarter having been diagnosed with the condition, according to research.

But because diagnosis levels across the continent are on average about 20%, falling to a mere 12% in Italy, it appears that the country’s dubious position at the top of the polls may be due to higher awareness of the issue than anything else.
According to a survey among 7,000 people in seven European countries conducted by Mori on behalf of the European Depression Association, a huge one in 10 employees have taken time off work at some point due to depression.
During their last bout, they took an average of 36 days leave, although the figures ranged from 41 days in the UK to 23 in Italy. Among those workers experiencing this form of mental ill health, UK staff were also among the most likely to take time off work (58%), topped only by the Germans (61%) and Danish (60%).
But across all of the countries surveyed, which included Spain, France and Turkey, one in four of those suffering from depression chose not to tell their employer, with a third saying that they were worried it could put their job at risk.
Moreover, a third of the 792 managers questioned said that they had no formal support in place for affected staff. The situation was slightly better than average in the UK, however, where most of the 117 managers surveyed said that they had good back-up from their HR department.
Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, the European Depression Association’s president, said: “The results of the survey show that much needs to be done in raising awareness and supporting employees and employers in recognising and managing depression in the workplace.”
But Emer O’Neill, chief executive of the charity Depression Alliance, said that she felt the situation in the UK was starting to improve.
“We’ve got much better over the last six or seven years in this country at identifying depression,” she pointed out, adding that she believed the real incidence of depression across Europe was relatively uniform.
Nonetheless, O’Neill felt that the number being diagnosed was “still only the tip of the iceberg” and that too many were still struggling on without adequate support.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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