Keeping The European Workforce Mentally Healthy

Mental health – a workplace priority

The European workforce and depression

A recent survey by the European Depression Association (EDA) – the results of which were published a few days ago too much attention in the media – highlights the continuing importance of promoting mental health in the workplace. One of the more noticeable statistics the survey produced was that ten percent of respondents had taken sickness absence because of depression. And the stats also indicate that the top three countries where the chances of people taking sick leave for depression were greatest are Germany, Denmark and the UK.

Stress and hospital admissions

The news of the EDA’s survey results are interesting in their own right, but the timing of them is notable from a mental health point of view, coming as they do just a few weeks after the story of rising hospital admissions for stress. In September the news sites’ health pages were carrying the story of how stress admissions had jumped in England by 7% over the year.

So, with the prevalence of depression in the workplace and the rising levels of stress, what can we do to ensure the workplace is as mentally healthy as possible?

Mental health diagnoses

In some ways, the EDA’s figures for UK depression may actually be a kind of positive. It’s been suggested, for instance, that a higher level of depression diagnoses could be a sign that the symptoms are being picked up on efficiently. And then there’s also the possibility that more people in the UK feel able to consult their doctor when they believe they may be suffering from the condition.

Promoting mental health in the work place

For employers, it’s a given that reducing sickness absence is good sense not just from a costs perspective but also in general terms of employee and workplace wellbeing,

Some organisations choose to provide their workforces with access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)  – these include things like counselling for employees who are dealing with issues such as depression, bereavement and relationship problems.

There are also mental health training courses available for staff such as line managers and these are designed to help people spot the signs of mental health conditions such as depression if they appear in colleagues.

The future

As it becomes more and more apparent that mental health problems are actually very common, and awareness is raised, an increasingly open attitude is likely to develop. And with more support available in terms of EAPs and workplace mental health promotion, the outlook is hopeful.

About the author: Jen Jones writes on workplace wellbeing, group health insurance and healthy eating for a number of blogs and websites.

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