UK employers encouraged to screen for depression

Companies across the UK should pay closer attention to the mental health of their workers, the authors of a new report have claimed.

According, the new study, which was carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), found that the UK is home to more unemployed people with work-related mental illness than any other developed country.

People who find themselves out of work because of mental health issues cost the UK economy £70 billion every year, the report shows.

According to the Government, around 800,000 people are thought to be unemployed and claiming disability benefits at the moment, with another 400,000 claiming other unemployment benefits because of psychological issues.

Shruti Singh, one of the report's authors, said the recent introduction of the Health and Work Service was a positive step, but suggested that the scheme, which allows employers to voluntarily refer workers for medical treatments and assessments, should be made compulsory.

She was quoted by as saying: "Our big concern about the big investment into the Health and Work Service is that nothing might be achieved because there is no obligation on employers and GPs."

Echoing Ms Singh's concerns, the OECD's deputy director, Mark Pearson, claimed that a failure to act on the work-related issues caused by mental illness would be a "major economic error".