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World Mental Health Day – 2012

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Today is the 20th annual World Mental Health Day. This year the theme is "Depression: A Global Crisis."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.

Mental Health Day aims to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services.

The video, launched below is a focus on depression by writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone in collaboration with WHO.

UK insurance firm Aviva has found from its Health of the Workplace 2012 report, published at the end of October, that while employees are generally feeling less stigma in the workplace, a third (35%) still feel that mental health remains a 'taboo' subject that is seldom talked about. Over half of employees (56%) think that physical illness will always carry less stigma than mental health.

The report also found that of those who feel stigma has decreased, around half (48%) of employees attribute this to a better understanding of mental health among peers and colleagues. Over a third (36%) of employees say that TV and press campaigns, such as Mind's 'Time to Change' campaign, have helped remove the stigma associated with mental health problems.

More than a quarter (28%) believe that celebrities talking openly about their mental health has created awareness and understanding, while 23% of employees believe that the Government's mental health strategy has helped.

Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva, UK Health, said: "Mental health is high on the agenda for both employees and employers in the UK.

"Employers have a vital role in helping to support those who are suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychiatric conditions."

He added: "There are many companies who offer no support at all to such employees, but equally we are seeing more and more companies starting to provide support and running training and awareness campaigns."

Kevin Firery clinical director of Workplace Wellness at Right Management, UK Strategic Workforce Consultancy said:"The relationship between mental health and work has come into the spotlight of late for a number of reasons.

"Not only are businesses beginning to gain a better understanding of the positive benefits of engaging in employee wellness but Government is moving more firmly to promote a shift from welfare to work, and this inevitably means more people who may have been absent from work because of mental ill-health will be encouraged to re-enter the workplace, bringing a set of priorities and needs for employers," he said.

Richard Nicolle, partner at law firm, SNR Denton, said: "Employers should be aware that many mental health conditions will constitute disabilities under the Equality Act and this places an obligation on an employer to make reasonable adjustments to working arrangements to assist the affected employee."

He added: "Ultimately, the message to employers is that taking appropriate steps to look after their employees' wellbeing will not only reduce the risk of legal claims but also decrease sickness absences and improve morale and productivity."

UK mental health charity Mind is suggesting people hold a "tea and talk" fundraising event to mark the day.

Aviva's Health of the Workplace report, published at the end of October, is an online annual research study of 1,000 UK employers and 1,000 employees examining workplace wellbeing and the issues affecting companies and their staff. Independent research company One Poll conducted the research in August 2012.