One in 10 workers has taken time off for depression

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Depressed man in the office
Image caption,
People can find it hard to keep on working when experiencing depression

One in 10 workers has taken time off because of depression, a poll of 7,000 people in seven European countries has found.

The Mori survey was carried out for the European Depression Association (EDA) in Britain, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Spain and France.

Those in Britain, Denmark and Germany were most likely to be off work because of depression.

A British expert said support for people with depression was improving.

Overall, 20% of the 7,000 polled had received a diagnosis of depression at some point in their lives.

The highest rate was in Britain, where 26% had been diagnosed and the lowest in Italy, where the figure was 12%.

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

Researchers have previously estimated the cost of depression at €92bn (£73bn) in 2010 across the EU, with lost productivity due to time off or under-performance accounting for most of the costs.

An average of 36 days were taken for the last episode of depression - but figures ranged from 41 in Britain to 23 in Italy.

Across the countries surveyed, one in four of with depression said they did not tell their employer.

One in three of them said they were worried it could put their job at risk.

A third of the 792 managers surveyed said they had no formal support in place to help them deal with employees experiencing depression.

But the situation was better in Britain, with most of the 117 managers questioned reporting good back-up from their HR department.

'Attention and action'

Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, president of the EDA, 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.

"We ask policymakers to consider the impact of depression on the workforce and charge them with addressing depression and workers and workplace safety."

MEP Stephen Hughes, who holds the Employment and Social Affairs portfolio in the European Parliament, backs better support and protection for workers.

He said: "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."

Emer O'Neill, chief executive of the Depression Alliance, said the situation in the UK was improving.

"We have moved forward significantly. Depression and anxiety is being talked about more and is more widely recognised. GPs are more receptive.

"In addition, employers are increasingly coming to groups like us to help them provide support and put procedures in place to allow people to go through this illness like they would any other.

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