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UK businesses need to do more to tackle depression, says KPMG director

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2 May 2014

Companies in the UK face worsening productivity if they don’t tackle the taboo around depression in the workplace, according to experts.

Nick Baber, Director of KPMG, a global network of professional services firms, believes that line managers should be trained to recognise and deal with the symptoms of depression.

"Often people don't want to deal with this issue as they don't understand it. Unless someone has suffered from depression themselves, or has seen the effect on someone they know well, they won't understand the condition. Fear of the unknown means employees and managers alike are not always comfortable dealing with it," says Baber.

Although depression and stress can be linked, Baber warned against treating them as the same issue. Baber describes depression as a “chemical imbalance” and while stress can be a trigger, it is not the only trigger.

Although many business offer workplace support for depression and mental illnesses, many people are put off taking the support available because they don’t feel comfortable admitting the problem to their colleagues, Baber said.

Stress and mental illness is a significant cause of absence for UK employers according to a recent study by Group Risk Development. A survey of 1,000 employers across 500 businesses shows 45% of employers see mental illness as a significant cause of absence.

36% also said that tackling mental health issue is their primary health and wellbeing concern. 

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