Unilever takes on depression in the workplace

unilever headquartersFood to detergent group Unilever is hosting a meeting for European business leaders in Rotterdam on Thursday which focuses on tackling depression.

The Anglo Dutch company describes depression in the invitation to the event as ‘one of the major public health issues of the 21st century’.

‘It consumes nearly one billion working days a year in Europe and employers bear five times the cost burden of depression compared to healthcare and social welfare services,’ the invitation said.

Dutch social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher is one of the speakers.

Unilever was one of several employers behind a report on depression at work which was published in April 2014.

At the time, Unilever spokesman Tim Munden said the company is aiming for a 10% reduction by 2015 in work-related mental ill health cases and working days lost to mental ill health.

‘Depression costs European employers an estimated £77 billion a year, yet despite this many workplaces underestimate its impact,’ he said. ‘At Unilever, we firmly believe addressing depression through our mental health policies will benefit both our people and our business.’

Unilever is a founding member of the Targeting Depression in the Workplace initiative, which was launched in October 2013.

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