Mental Health in the Workplace

4 June 2015 A report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation finds that more must be done to support those with depression in the workplace.

4 Jun 2015| News

4 June 2015

A report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation finds that more must be done to support those with depression in the workplace.

Depression has a wide range of effects on an individual’s work life or job seeking. The Work Foundation has released a report, authored by Karen Steakman and Tyna Taskila, which finds that that “the most effective interventions, including a range psychological therapies and specialist employment support services, are not widely accessible, nor available in a timely fashion”.

The report makes several recommendations aimed at increasing understanding of how depression affects working life, summarised as;

  • Working better together – encouraging joint-working of government departments, working with local partners and the voluntary sector, and engaging with employers to deal with this cross—cutting concern.
  • Promoting the concept of employment as a health outcome – encouraging health care professionals to view employment as a treatment outcome for patients with depression.
  • Enhancing understanding and recognition of the symptoms of depression – Improving specialist knowledge about the complexities of depression within a range of health and vocational support services.
  • Improving access to job retention support – increasing access to Access to Work, and improving out-of-hours access to treatment services. The NHS should lead by example and provide best practice support to its own employees.
  • Improving access to evidence-based interventions – building the evidence base on what works in employment support for people with depression, and promoting and funding those evidence-based services which are already available.
  • Developing a welfare system that supports individuals with depression – reviewing back to work support through a depression lens, including expanding measures to include progress towards employment.

Commenting on the paper, Professor Stephen Bevan, Director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, at Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation, said;

“Depression is a social and clinical condition, which is associated with increased social exclusion, and lower employment rates. Negative and discriminatory attitudes towards depression, and mental health conditions in general, can present a considerable barrier to employment. For many people this results in an unwillingness to be open about their health condition and consequently a failure to access appropriate support to manage their symptoms, both in health and in employment settings, which would help them to remain in or return to work. The symptoms of depression currently present very real barriers to working, but by improving access to the right support, and with the right attitudes, they need not continue to be.”

The full report is available here.

The TUC has also issued a report on good practice in workplace mental health, also available to read here. The report is the result of a seminar on the issue in 2015, and reflects that in an increasingly unstable and precarious employment landscape, mental health is coming to the forefront of the union agenda.