Failure to tackle depression at work costs firms billions

Widespread discrimination, bullying and stigma prevent workers from seeking proper help

Workers feel unable to disclose mental health problems to colleagues or bosses because discrimination is rife and openness discouraged, according to research to be published tomorrow. As many as one in four workers have experienced discrimination or witnessed colleagues being discriminated against at work because they suffered from a mental health problem, according to a new survey by the charity Mind.

Experts say good communication in the workplace is essential if people are to open up about problems before spiralling into depression and anxiety.

Mental illness is the most common health problem to affect people of working age: one in six suffer from severe stress, depression or addiction at any one time. The financial effects alone are startling, with a cost to UK businesses of more than £26bn last year, according to the Centre for Mental Health (CMH).

Mind is campaigning to challenge stigma, bullying and inadequate support services. It wants to persuade employers that spotting staff struggling with stress and mental health problems and then providing the right support will save them billions in sick leave and poor productivity.

One in four workers said their bosses rarely or never asked them how they were. Less than half said their bosses regularly listened to their viewpoint, while two-thirds said they do not feel valued at work.

Amy Whitelock of Mind said: "Mental health problems remain the elephant in the room. Poor communication fuels the problem because if your boss or manager doesn't even ask how you are, how could you possibly approach them about anything more sensitive? There is still a culture of denial which means employees are afraid to speak out because they fear discrimination or being thought of as weak, and employers are afraid to broach the subject in case they make things worse."

Fear of being bullied or isolated means workers are more comfortable taking time off for physical ailments than depression or anxiety, according to Mind's survey of 2,006 people. This means thousands go to work every day despite feeling mentally under par, costing the economy £16bn a year in underperformance or "presenteeism", according to the CMH. Its new report, Managing Presenteeism, to be launched later this month, will show employers how to reduce the burden through early detection and better support for mental health problems.

Andy Bell, chief executive of the CMH, said: "The openness message must come from the top, but line managers and supervisors are key, as they are the ones who will first notice if someone isn't performing. Disclosure is incredibly difficult but the onus is clearly with the employers, and the business case is clear."

Case Study: Pippa, 32, high street bank cashier

Pippa (not her real name) has suffered from bouts of depression since the age of 17

"I didn't tell the bank about my depression in my job application because I knew they wouldn't give me the job. In my first few months, I did so well that I was awarded the 'rising star', but the expectations are unrealistic and, since being signed off for two weeks in January, I've been passed over for promotions.

"They monitor you to make sure you are smiling all the time, even when you're not with a customer – it makes you feel like a robot. Everyone knows the bank moves problem people to other branches, so I am scared to ask for support. My line manager pointed out how much I'd cost the company by taking time off.

"Officially they encourage you to tell them if you have a problem, but that's not how it works in reality. My manager is so cold, thick-skinned and unapproachable."

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower