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Workers in Britain ‘most depressed’ in Europe

2 October 2012

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One in 10 employees in Europe have taken time off work due to depression with British workers coming top of the pile.

An average of 36 working days are lost per episode of depression.

The IDEA survey (Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit) on behalf of European Depression Association (EDA) polled more than 7,000 people in Europe and found 20% had received a diagnosis of depression at some point.

Great Britain came in with the highest depression rate (26%) with Italy coming in lowest (12%).

Those workers in Germany (61%), Denmark (60%), and Britain (58%) were most likely to take time off work for depression, while those in Turkey were the least likely to take time off (25%).

However, one in four of those experiencing depression said they did not tell their employer about their problem as the majority felt it would put their job at risk in the current economic climate.

Furthermore, almost one in three managers said they had no formal support or resources to deal with employees who have depression, and 43% called for better policies and legislation to protect employees.
“Depression in the workplace is an employment and societal challenge that is causing serious damage and which requires attention and action from the European Union,” said MEP Stephen Hughes.

“The inclusion of depression in the workplace in the new European Commission Strategy for Health and Safety at Work, backed up in the coming two years with legislative action, would represent excellent progress towards protecting Europe’s workers more effectively and ultimately contributing to economic and social prosperity.”

The costs of depression has been estimated at €92bn (£73bn) in 2010 in the EU, with lost productivity due to absenteeism (taking time off work) and presenteeism (being present at work while ill) representing over 50% of all costs related to depression.