Policymakers must do more to address depression, argues MEP

Written by Angelika Werthmann on 10 April 2014 in News

Angelika Werthmann explains why EU policymakers must 'take the lead' in reducing the impact of depression in the workplace.

Depression, the leading cause of disability worldwide, is one of the major challenges that occupational health and safety legislation will have to overcome in the future. Throughout Europe, an estimated one of every 10 working people takes time off every year because of depression. Costs due to mental ill health are estimated to rise up to 3-4.5 per cent of the European Union's GDP, with depression alone costing Europe's businesses almost €100bn per year in loss of productivity due to, for example, sick leave and early retirement. Mental health problems at the workplace are high and even increasing because of a changing world of work. According to Irene Houtman, representing the EU joint action on mental health and well-being, "Depression is the major diagnosis for these mental health problems".

The current mental health policy framework needs a critical evaluation. Data needs to be used more efficiently and notions must be clarified for a better understanding and increased awareness of issues. Innovative thinking and acting are imperative, and there is significant need and room for education amongst stakeholders. A number of businesses and private companies began to recognise the impact promoting good mental health in the workplace has on the business as a whole. Amelia Mustapha, from the European depression association, highlights that "the employee/employer relationship provides a unique opportunity to address depression in the workplace".  Employers need educating about the disease in order to successfully manage their workforce's mental health. When this happens, people with depression can lead productive lives and make valuable contributions to society as a whole. 

We, as European policymakers, must take the lead and attempt to reduce the impact depression has in the workplace. We call on the next European commission to take forward the recommendations on addressing depression in the workplace. Through employment policy and legislation, the European Union and its member states can ensure the protection of workers from depression and that businesses can ultimately improve their productivity and bottom line. The inclusion of depression in the forthcoming EU strategy on health and safety is the first concrete action for the next European parliament to reduce the burden of this devastating disease.

About the author

Angelika Werthmann is a non-attached member of parliament

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.


Share this page



Related Articles

Justin Trudeau MEPs set to battle it out over CETA vote
13 February 2017

Battle lines are being drawn ahead of a keenly-awaited vote in Parliament this week on the EU-Canada comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA).

Soft drinks European soft drinks industry to reduce added sugars by 10 per cent by 2020
7 February 2017

The European soft drinks industry has announced it will reduce added sugars in its products across Europe by a further 10 per cent by 2020.

PM 448 Issue 448 | 06 February 2017
6 February 2017

Andrus Ansip interview, EU Budget Financing, Copyright, Mining Waste Directive, Trans-Fats, Audiovisual Media Services Directive, EU-Mercosur,  5 questions with Eva Kaili and more...

Related Partner Content

Thought Leader: Juan Jover: Early intervention
31 March 2014

Early intervention is a cost-effective solution to reducing the burden of musculoskeletal disorders, writes Juan Jover.

Various cartoons related to health Data protection regulation set to benefit patient health
4 December 2015

A balanced approach to data protection in research will boost patient health, writes Richard Bergström.

PM+: EU’s clinical trials regulation ‘a step in right direction’
9 April 2014

But threats to clinical trial data transparency remain on the horizon, warns Ancel•la Santos Quintano.