Increase in workplace depression

Employers are noticing a significant increase in work-related depression and are taking steps to tackle the problem head-on in an effort to manage it more effectively.

The rise is thought to be the result of the recession, as downsizing firms make mass redundancies, leaving the continuing workloads with those workers who are left behind, experts have claimed.

Work related stress or depression often develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them and can be a significant cause of illness, as well as being linked with high levels of sickness absence.

Mental health charity Mind Cymru reports that it has experienced an increased demand for their employer training courses designed to show employers how to handle staff with depression. Alan Briscoe, a Mind Cymru manager for training and consultancy, agrees that the increase in demand for their courses is probably linked to the recession, but also to improved awareness of mental health issues.

Robert Lloyd Griffiths, spokesman for the Institute of Directors (IOD) in Wales, said work-related depression during hard times is not a staff versus bosses issue. He said that company directors who have built businesses are just as vulnerable to depression when wondering whether their firms will survive, as those they employ.

But Mr Lloyd Griffiths said there was “light at the end of the tunnel” – citing recent data which, he said, shows an improving picture for the economy and that confidence is at the highest level since the beginning of the recession in 2008. “Businesses are busier and there’s a sense of optimism breaking out and I think that’s got to be the hope for a reduction in stress both for employers and employees.”

Workplace depression is an occupational health issue that employers must address in order to comply with their legal obligations under health and safety legislation. Well-designed, organised and managed work is good for workers but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in work related stress or depression.

In the employment department at Palmers, we can advise employers on the procedures they should be following in line with legislation in matters relating to employee health issues in the workplace. For more information, visit the website or contact Lara Murray.