If employers, the NHS and society are going to tackle common mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, there needs to be a much better evidence base built up around what interventions work best and at what point, think-tank The Work Foundation has said.
A paper, Symptoms of depression and their effects on employment, has examined ways in which some of the symptoms associated with depression can form a barrier to work.
In order to improve both productivity and health and wellbeing among those of working age, more concerted action must be taken to support people with depression to stay in and to return to work, it has argued.
It also recommended more joint working and collaboration between government departments, local partners, the voluntary sector and employers and for the NHS to promote the idea of employment as a “health outcome”
There needed to be a greater understanding and recognition of the symptoms of depression, as well as improved vocational support services. The Access to Work programme, out-of-hours NHS services and the welfare system could all be more focused on this area, it recommended.
Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the foundation, said: “Depression is a social and clinical condition, which is associated with increased social exclusion, and lower employment rates.
“The symptoms of depression currently present very real barriers to working, but by improving access to the right support, and with the right attitudes, they need not continue to be,” he added.