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Employers must spot signs of depression

Mental ill health the second largest cause of sick leave

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Mental ill health is the second largest cause of time lost due to sickness absence in UK organisations with stress, depression, and anxiety accounting for over 50 per cent of these mental health problems, according to a report published this month.

The findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Active Health Partners were based on the absence records of 30,000 employees working across 40 different organisations.

The number one cause of time lost due to sickness absence is musculoskeletal conditions. But CIPD found that employees take on average 21 days for each mental health-related sickness absence spell. The average length of time off for an employee suffering depression is 30 days.

CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Willmott said: "This research shows how important it is for managers and HR practitioners to be aware of the signs of mental ill health so that they can take action early and provide support before the individual's condition deteriorates to the point they go off on long-term sick leave."

The organisation is also calling for the government to help and encourage more employers to provide their staff with access to cost-effective occupational health services.

"We would like to see tax incentives introduced to encourage more employers to offer occupational health services to employees, as well as further Government investment in the development and extension of services such as NHS Plus and Workplace Health Connect," said Willmott.

"Just as crucially GPs need to work more closely with employers to identify opportunities for phased return-to-work for individuals with mental health problems in less demanding or reduced hours' roles as part of their rehabilitation. Otherwise more employees with mental health problems will fall out of employment altogether and add to the incapacity benefit claimants," he said.

The report, New directions in managing employee absence, is available to buy from CIPD's bookstore.

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