Study: Workplace Depression Common on Global Level

Oct. 3, 2016
New research examines the monetary impact of depression on workplaces in eight different countries.

A new study is raising awareness of workplace depression and its financial burden on companies.

Researchers at London School of Economics and Political Science surveyed 8,000 employees across eight countries about depression and extrapolated the data, taking into consideration each country’s culture and GDP.

“Depression is an issue deserving attention, regardless of a country’s economic development, national income or culture,” they said. “Moreover, with the growth in non-communicable diseases globally—with mental illnesses contributing substantially—the scale of the problem is likely to increase.”

Countries included in the study were: Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States.

Of these countries, the United States and Brazil exhibited the highest presenteeism costs per person associated with depression at $5574 and $5788, respectively. Many workers in higher-income countries are reluctant to tell their employer about being depressed as it might be perceived as shameful, researchers said.

In relation to GDP, the study found lower productivity costs in Asian countries compared to the United States because of the lower depression diagnosis in Asian countries.

The study also found:

  • When taking into account the size of the labor force and the estimated annual prevalence of depression among employed persons, the US was the highest at more than $84 billion and Brazil second at over $63 billion.
  • Mean annual per person costs for absenteeism associated with depression were lowest in South Korea at $181.
  • Japan had the highest average cost of absenteeism at $2674 per person. A high number of employees took time off of work for at least 10 days.
  • Individuals with higher incomes had higher depression-related presenteeism.
  • Individuals living in a country with higher prevalence of depression also tended to have higher presenteeism.

Depression affects about 350 million people worldwide, according to Global Burden of Disease.

The study is available to be viewed online here.

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