BT and Unilever focus on depression at work

Large European employers, such as Barclays, BT Group, Deutsche Post DHL, Royal Mail Group and Unilever, have launched an initiative to combat the impact depression and its cognitive symptoms have in the workplace.

The employers, which collectively employ more than 600,000 employees in Europe, have formed a steering committee, called Targeting Depression in the Workplace, which aims to develop concrete action to help other organisations reduce the impact of depression.

The launch coincides with World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Bill Wilkerson, executive chairman of Mental Health International, is the chair of the steering group, while its vice chair is John Duncan, group HR director at Royal Mail Group.

The other members are:

  • Steve Evison, chair of the Federation of European Employers and executive director of HR at Ford of Britain.
  • Deborah France-Massin, director of the Bureau for Employers’ Activities and the International Labour Organisation.
  • Dr Paul Litchfield, chief medical officer and director of health, safety and wellbeing at BT Group.
  • Mark McLane, global head of diversity and inclusion at Barclays.
  • Tim Munden, vice president of HR, UK and Ireland at Unilever.
  • Dr Andreas Tautz, medical director at Deutsche Post DHL.
  • Philip Campbell, editor in chief, Nature, and member of the World Economic Forum Global Council on Wellbeing and Mental Health.
  • Teddy Hebo Larsen, senior vice president of HR at H. Lundbeck A/S

Litchfield said: “Mental health is the dominant workplace health issue of our time. 

“Work can either be beneficial or harmful to mental health and employers can make a major contribution to the wellbeing of society by their actions.

“Combating depression has been a priority for BT for many years and is an integral part of our Mental Health Framework, which has delivered significant business benefits as well as helping very many of our people. 

“Through the Target Depression in the Workplace initiative, we are looking forward to working with other employers to drive best practice to a higher level and to disseminate it as widely as possible.”

Wilkerson added: “We believe there is a huge need for the Target Depression in the Workplace initiative, which will help us tackle one of the leading public health problems facing the working population of Europe.

“As part of a global effort, we aim to provide valuable tools and resources, which will benefit employers, not just in Europe, but worldwide, to alleviate both the personal and economic burden of depression.”