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Dealing with depression in the workplace

Following the tragic crash of the German aeroplane where a pilot flew 150 people to their deaths following a long term battle with mental health, depression, stress and anxiety have become a hot topic amongst the public. The Times have revealed that most bosses do not believe that suffering from stress, depression or anxiety is a serious enough reason for staff to take time off work.

AXA PPP conducted the study among 1,000 bosses and 1,000 staff before the Germanwings tragedy took place. Would the same findings be uncovered having now known the story of the Lufthansa employee? We can’t be certain, but one thing that is for certain is that depression is becoming more talked about in the workplace and should be better understood by employers.

The study revealed that two thirds of chief executives, managing directors and line managers said that they were most concerned about how employees’ mental ill health might reflect on their management style, or that it would affect the employee’s ability to do their job.

Of the 1,000 employees questioned, only a third said that they would be honest with their boss if they needed time off for depression, stress or anxiety. One in four said the main reasons for lying was fear that they would be judged as weak or that they would not be believed. Fear of their manager’s reaction was felt by seven percent of those asked, and forty six per cent of employees thought their employer did not take mental health seriously.

Why is there still stigma attached to such a common, seemingly increasing problem? Companies have a key role to play in changing harmful prejudice and poor practice. Improving awareness of mental health issues such as depression will increase the understanding around the subject, which in effect should reduce the fear factor in both employers and employees.

Depression awareness week is taking place on 20th April 2015 and is a good starting point for employers to begin introducing small but important changes, such as promoting an open and honest culture and discussing the subject of depression and stress. Employers are advised to have a Stress Policy and Procedure to outline what procedures an employer would take if an employee has taken time off work due to stress.

A Company has a duty to provide a safe system of work and has a duty of care towards its employees. The Health & Safety Executive has defined stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed upon them”.

For guidance on how to approach stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace, visit the NHS website for further information. If you’re unsure about the correct procedure to be following when dealing with such situations, contact myHRdept to speak to a qualified adviser.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR why not contact With full service Premium Plus packages for medium sized companies typically from only a few hundred per month (and from only £100 per month for smaller companies and start-ups) and fixed price HR support options available for one-off issues, we believe we offer the best combination of quality and price available in the UK. Call us on 01628 820515 to discuss your requirements or email us here and we’ll call you back.

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