Providing managerial support and help for employees with depression reduces the rate of workplace absenteeism, a study has found.
The researchers, said the international survey, published in the online journal BMJ Open, bolsters the case for active workplace policies on mental health.
The researchers, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, drew on an audit of more than 16,000 employees and their managers in 15 countries with varying levels of income (GDP) and cultural norms.
Analysis of the responses showed that managers in South Korea and China were the most likely to avoid talking about depression with employees, while managers in Denmark, Canada, and Great Britain were the least likely to do so.
Living in a country with a higher proportion of managers who deployed avoidance tactics was associated with taking more days off work for depression, as was residence in a country with a higher GDP.
Similarly, living in a country with a greater proportion of managers actively offering help and support to employees with depression was associated with more days at work.
People who were more highly educated also took more time off for depression than their less well educated peers, while those working for larger companies took fewer days off work than those working for smaller ones.
“The business case for intervention through better managerial response is exemplified by the substantial costs associated with mental health problems and evidence from a number of studies that mental health can improve through workplace programmes, with economic benefits to employers,” the researchers said.