The CIPD says it has welcomed the opportunity provided by Depression Awareness Week - this week - to raise the profile of mental ill health in the workplace.
Employers need to do more to raise awareness of stress or conditions such as depression and anxiety in the workplace so that early and appropriate support can be given, it says.
Poor mental health is the second largest cause of time lost due to sickness absence in UK organisations, with stress, depression and anxiety accounting for over 50% of mental health problems, according to research conducted by the CIPD in 2006.
What’s more, stress related absence is still on the increase and the average sickness absence for someone suffering from depression is 30 days.
Ben Wilmott, CIPD’s employee relations advisor says: “It’s important for managers and HR practitioners to be aware of the signs of mental ill health so that they can take action early and provide support before the individual’s condition deteriorates to the point they go off on long-term sick leave.
“One of the problems is that – in too many cases – individuals hide from their employer that they are suffering from mental health problems because they are concerned about their job security or their career prospects. This is counter-productive because it increases the likelihood that their condition will deteriorate to the point they have to take a long period off work or leave employment altogether.
“Employers should make it clear that support is available if people are feeling under excessive pressure at work or suffering from problems in their personal lives that are affecting their mental wellbeing.
“The provision of flexible working opportunities, access to occupational health support as well as employee assistance help-lines and counselling services can help give people with mental health conditions the advice and support to help them manage or overcome their problems. Investment in such services will pay for itself through reduced absence costs.”