Only half of staff with depression have received help from their manager

Only half of UK employees with depression have been offered support from their managers, despite the suggestion that those who are open about their mental health are more productive those who hide their condition, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has found.

A survey of more than 16,000 employees across 15 countries found that only 52.5% of UK employees with depression had been received support by their superior, while 3.2% said their manager had avoided talking to them about their depression altogether.

Workplaces in Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and Brazil were found to offer more manager support than those in the UK. Mexico was the most supportive country, with 67% of employees receiving help from their superiors.

Organisations in Japan were the least supportive, with only 16% of staff with depression receiving assistance.

The report – Is manager support related to workplace productivity for people with depression? – suggested that employees living in high income countries were more likely to be open about their depression than those in nations with lower GDP.

The report’s co-author Dr Sara Evans Lacko said: “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.”

Highly-educated employees of small organisations tended to take more days off work to manage their mental health than less educated individuals or those at larger businesses.

The report said: “It may be that large companies offer more structure in terms of transitioning back to work, including offering part-time return to work.

“It has also been suggested that smaller companies have lower awareness of the resources available to them to support employees with mental health problems.”

Seventy per cent of employees with mental illness, including depression, hid their condition, fearing what their employer or colleagues would think. They also worried about discrimination in finding and keeping jobs if they were open about their illness.

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