A new survey from the European Depression Association has revealed that one in ten working people surveyed in Europe have taken time off work due to depression.

The Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit (IDEA) survey shows the average number of days taken off work during an episode of depression to be 36 days, with Great Britain having the highest (41 days), adding up to more than 21,000 days of time away from work. The numbers suggest a serious problem yet nearly one in three employers reported no formal support or resources to deal with employees who suffer from depression, while 43% want better policies and legislation to protect employees.

The IDEA survey questioned over 7,000 people across Europe and discovered that 20% of the respondents had received a diagnosis of depression at some point.

Great Britain had the highest percentage recorded (26%), and of those experiencing depression, it suggested that 58% were likely to take time off work because of it.

Suzanne McMinn, Head of HR at Workplace Law, commented:

“With the current lack of job security and companies undergoing more and more cost saving exercises, it is not surprising to see that depression is on the increase with UK employees.”

Employers were asked ‘what is needed to support employees with depression in the workplace’ and the most cited answers were more counseling services and better Government legislation and policies. According to the findings, 56% of UK employers would like better counseling services.

Suzanne McMinn added:

“The key for organisations is to understand what is behind the level of sick absence and then look to see if it is something that they can address.

“Employers are not always the cause of depression, and they need to be aware that they can’t solve all the problems of their employees. But what they can do is look to understand the underlying issues and work with absent employees to facilitate a return to work.”

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, a private member’s Bill, is currently undergoing its passage through Parliament, and seeks to repeal legislative provisions that can prevent people with mental health conditions (including a history of depression) from serving as Members of Parliament, members of the devolved legislatures, jurors, or company directors.