Supportive managers linked to fewer absences among depressed employees, study finds

Employees with depression miss fewer work days when actively supported by their managers, according to a study published in BMJ Open.

For the study, researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science analyzed survey data from 16,000 employees and managers across 15 countries, including the U.S.

The survey asked managers how they handled mental health concerns with their employees. Researchers also collected data on how frequently employees took time off from work due to their depression.

In countries where managers reported they would avoid talking with employees about depression, depressed employees missed, on average, four more days. The study also found in countries with lower gross domestic product. employees with depression missed more days of work than employees in countries with high GDPs. When the researchers controlled the GDP, countries with supportive managers still saw employees with depression miss fewer days of work.

"[W]orking in an environment where managers felt comfortable to offer help and support to the employee rather than avoid them was independently associated with less absenteeism and more presenteeism," the authors wrote.

The authors also said other factors may be responsible for the results. For example, a country's resources could affect how much workplaces can invest in mental health policies and support employees.

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