Research shows that one in ten European workers have to take time off work due to an episode of depression.
The news came from a survey called The IDEA survey, titled "Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit", which questioned over 7,000 people in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and Denmark. It was conducted by the European Depression Association, which found that each depressive episode cost about 36 working days. This has spurred many companies into action.
Currently, half of all managers are calling for better policies and legislation to protect their employees. Others are working to create support service procedures to help those with depression.
Several members of the European Parliament are also working to help those with depression.
MEP Stephen Hughes said, "Depression in the workplace is an employment and societal challenge that is causing serious damage and which requires attention and action from the European Union. The inclusion of depression in the workplace in the new European Commission Strategy for Health and Safety at Work, backed up in the coming two years with legislative action, would represent excellent progress towards protecting Europe's workers more effectively and ultimately contributing to economic and social prosperity."
Protecting workers with depression is going to be a major issue for Europe as 30 million Europeans will be diagnosed with depression during their lifetimes. 20% of all those surveyed reported already having been diagnosed with depression. This makes depression the largest mental health challenge for people working in Europe today.
In the UK alone, the survey found that 26% of British workers have been diagnoses with depression at some point. This is the highest percentage in all of Europe. Furthermore, 58% of British workers with depression have taken time off work to deal with the condition.
This is made worse by the fact that depression can be very tough to treat. At least one third of depression patients do not respond to treatment. Those that do find effective treatment often require traditional therapy and pharmacological help which can take an extended period of time.
With employees off seeking treatment or trying to work while depressed, the costs for companies can quickly accumulate. In 2012 alone, depression cost the European economy about €92 billion. With appropriate treatment and action, the cost of depression can be brought down but it will take a concerted effort by companies and medical professionals to formulate the best options available.