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Depression Alliance launch ‘Work in Progress’

Depression Alliance launch ‘Work in Progress’ campaign to improve the employment rates of people with depression

Nearly three quarters of MPs believe the next Government (2015-20) should prioritise supporting people with depression to get back into employment (72%). These findings from a UK-wide survey commissioned by Depression Alliance and European Depression Association (through an educational grant from Lundbeck*) also reveal that MPs agree that the Government should provide support to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to promote prevention and early intervention in depression in the workplace (72%).

In response to today’s findings, and to coincide with Depression Awareness Week (20th-26th April 2015), Depression Alliance is launching ‘Work in Progress’ - a UK-wide campaign aimed at improving the employment rates of people with depression. The campaign will seek to work with incoming MPs from all parties to implement policies that support the millions of people with depression improve their employment outcomes.

Emer O’Neill, Chief Executive of Depression Alliance says, “With one in every six working-age people living with depression at any one time, improving awareness and support for individuals and businesses is critical. People with depression can work, yet it is still a taboo, with too many people – individuals and employers - afraid to discuss the issue and find meaningful and appropriate solutions.”

“Beyond providing income, work provides structure and focus, it creates social opportunities and give us a sense of achievement and it’s a very important part of maintaining recovery from depression.”

She added: “The majority of MPs agree that this should be a priority of the next government, so we call on the incoming class of 2015 MPs to work with us to improve employment rates for people with depression in order to boost businesses and strengthen the UK economy.”

50 MPs participated in the cross-party survey carried out by the independent research consultancy ComRes. Other findings from the survey show that 60% of MPs agree that mental health problems such as depression are an important national policy issue in the UK (second only to cancer) and that cost-effective mental health services should have the same mandatory funding as physical health services (76%), with only 8% agreeing that the NHS is sufficiently prepared to manage depression efficiently.

Rt Hon Paul Burstow, former Minister for Mental Health says, “I’m fully behind the ‘Work in Progress’ campaign. We all need to do more to help raise awareness of mentalhealth and what an important part work can play in recovery. Helping people with depression to feel supported in their work environment can mean the world to those individuals, and the bottom line is it could also save UK businesses billions.”

He added: “It is great to see so much support from MPs for this vital area and I call on every MP elected next month to help build a strong political force driving change,fighting stigma against mental illness and doing everything possible to keep people in work.”

One in six of the working population in the UK suffer from depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress with depression being the single most important cause of workplace absenteeism in the UK. A recent report published by The Work Foundation identified that the cognitive symptoms of depression -such as low mood, lack of motivation or interest, difficulty concentrating,being easily distracted and negative thinking – were also impacting on job retention, work performance and creating barriers to seeking employment.

Geoff McDonald, who was HR Vice President for Unilever and speaks openly about his personal experience of depression whilst at work says, “Now more than ever we need to break the stigma and taboo associated with depression in the corporate world. Employers particularly need to start with educating leaders and all employees on which symptoms to look out for, how to help and manage someone with depression and integrate them back into the workplace and the aspects of organisational culture that need to change to create more caring organisations.”

* The UK-wide survey, carried out by the independent pollingsurvey company Comres, was funded by Lundbeck within the guidance of the ABPIcode of practice. Lundbeck has provided Depression Alliance and EuropeanDepression Association with an educational grant to fund the ComRes MP surveyin the UK and across Europe and implement an outreach programme to policymakers and media audiences.

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