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Mental health organisation responds to 'shocking' report on depression

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An organisation that deals with mental health issues says that it is "shocking but not surprising" that mental illness is still such a problem in UK workplaces.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) CEO Poppy Jaman was commenting on a research released by King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) last week. It suggested depression still costs British employers £77 billion every year through absence.

Jaman said: "As shocking as these findings are, they come as no surprise to our organisation, which is dealing daily with UK employers who are waking up to the impact that mental ill health has on the bottom line of their businesses."

The report showed that of the 500 employees surveyed in the UK, 20% reported having a previous diagnosis of depression.

Jaman said attitudes in the workplace must be addressed. "Line managers and workplaces should be able to automatically signpost someone to the right interventions if they recognise some of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health," she said. "But that can only be done if the culture of the workplace is set up in a way where good mental health is promoted."

LSE lead analyst professor Martin Knapp blames the failure to deal with depression effectively on a lack of understanding around the subject. He said: "Despite a lot of publicity surrounding mental illness, it is worrying to see that there is still a major stigma associated with depression and many employers are not dealing with it adequately.”