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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
July 24, 2018

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Workers with depression more productive if they can talk to bosses

Employees who feel able to speak openly about their depression with their managers are more productive at work, according to a new academic study.

A new study by academics from the London School of Economic’s Personal Social Services Research Unit also found employees with depression, whose managers do not offer them support, take more days off of work.

The study looked at depression in the workplace in 15 countries, including the UK, and is the first to compare openness about depression and workplace productivity in high income countries with middle and low-income countries.

People living in Mexico were most likely to report that their manager had offered to help with their depression (67%).

In Great Britain, the figure was 53%, while in Japan only 16% of those questioned said their managers had offered proactive support.

People living in South Korea (30%) and China (27%) were most likely to say their manager had avoided talking about their depression.

Denmark had the most supportive managers with only 2% of respondents saying that their manager had avoided the issue. In Great Britain the figure was 3%.

The study also found that individuals with higher levels of education took more days off than those with lower levels of education, as did those working in smaller companies in comparison to those who work in larger companies.

“Our research shows that where employers create a culture of avoidance around talking about depression, employees themselves end up avoiding work and even when they return to work they are not as productive as they could be,” said Associate Professorial Research Fellow and paper co-author, Dr Sara Evans Lacko.

“Such situations could be transformed by managers providing more proactive support to people dealing with these issues.”

Dr Evans Lacko added: “Depression is an invisible illness and, up to a certain point, people can conceal it. A manager might recognise that an employee’s performance is suffering but not the reason behind that, or they may feel that the issue is too taboo to discuss openly. More training and better workplace policies could help managers to recognise symptoms sooner and provide support – helping the individual and reducing the cost to employers at the same time.”

To read the research in full, click here.

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