Number of employees with depression increases 18% in ten years

Employers urged to support workers struggling with mental health problems.

In light of figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which revealed that the number of people with depression worldwide increased 18% between 2005 and 2015, HR and diversity consultancy the Clear Company has urged employers to ensure they’re equipped to manage staff with mental health conditions.

The WHO decided to focus World Health Day 2017 on depression – the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

The aim of the World Health Organisation’s year-long campaign, of which World Health Day is the culmination, is to encourage countries, organisations and individuals to reconsider their approaches to mental health, and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.

According to the WHO, a lack of support for people with mental health problems, coupled with a fear of stigmatism, prevents many people living with depression from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Related: People with mental health conditions denied equal access to the benefits system

Commenting on the need for employers to be disability confident, Kate Headley, Director at diversity consultancy, the Clear Company said:

“With figures from mental health charity, Mind, revealing that one in four people in the UK is expected to experience a problem associated with their mental health every year, it is crucial that as an employer you are aware of how you can effectively support individuals with a mental health condition.

“Employers often misinterpret the cognitive symptoms associated with conditions such as depression or anxiety – such as poor concentration, difficulty with decision-making and negative thinking – so, people with undisclosed mental health conditions are at a higher risk of losing their jobs.

“However falling out of employment can make conditions worse and, according to Mind, those taking time off for more than six months at a time have only a 20% chance of returning to work in the next five years.

“Moreover, figures from NHS England reveal that almost 50% of long-term absences from work are the result of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

“Ensuring that your staff feel comfortable talking to you about mental health problems and personal adjustments is key, and it is critical that you foster an open and honest company culture and are transparent about your willingness to make reasonable adjustments to help all employees – not just those with visible disabilities.

“Often the small investment needed to make a reasonable adjustment far outweighs the cost of having to recruit and train a new employee, in fact our research shows that the average adjustment costs just £30.

“When it comes to supporting employees with a mental health problems small changes can make a big difference.”