Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year (2016), according to research published today by Centre for Mental Health. Deloitte’s in another study covering the same period give a range of between £33 – 42 billion.

Mental health at work: The business costs ten years on finds that by far the largest part of the business cost is in the form of reduced productivity among people who are at work but unwell: or ‘presenteeism’. This costs businesses twice as much as sickness absence relating to poor mental health. The remainder of the cost relates to turnover – people leaving their jobs as a result of poor mental health.

The IOD in its own report stated, “If you’re still in any doubt about the impact of mental health at work upon British business, here are 7 stats that will change your mind…”

15.8 million – The number of work hours that are lost each year because of mental health issues including stress, depression, anxiety as well as more serious conditions such as manic depression and schizophrenia. This makes up 11.5% of the total number of sick days for 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

25% – The year on year increase of the number of days taken off work because of mental health issues.

500,000 – Last year, over half a million Brits suffered from stress at work, resulting in an average of 24 days lost per worker at a cost of more than £5billion. Professor Sir Cary L Cooper is a renowned psychologist who lectures at Manchester Business School. He believes that the uncertainties surrounding Britain’s departure from the EU will cause that figure to rise. Cooper recently said, “My fear is that bill will grow substantially during the next two years or longer, both direct costs and indirectly in terms of significantly lower productivity per worker.”

21% – In a recent survey carried out by MIND, more than one in five UK workers called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them.

£226bn – Research from the Mental Health Foundation estimates that the output of people with common mental health problems in the workplace is nine times (or £25bn) more than the cost of mental health problems to economic output. That output is equal to 12.1% of Britain’s GDP.

15.9% – The percentage of the UK working population in 2015 that had mental health problems.

4.5% – The economic burden of poor mental health upon the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Increasing awareness of mental health across the business community could therefore play a key role in addressing Britain’s ‘productivity puzzle’.

Mind the mental health charity has published the following figures:

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

Are Mental Health Problems Increasing?

The overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, but worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.

It appears that how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing.

How Common Are Specific Problems?

Every seven years a survey is done in England to measure the number of people who have different types of mental health problems. It was last published in 2016 and reported these figures:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder 9 in 100 people
  • Depression 3 in 100 people
  • Phobias 4 in 100 people
  • OCD 3 in 100 people
  • Panic disorder 6 in 100 people
  • Post traumatic stress disorder 4 in 100 people
  • Mixed anxiety and depression 8 in 100 people

Furthermore, as part of Government austerity measures there has been pressure on mental health services which have been referred to as the Cinderella services of the NHS.

Although estimates vary, roughly between 30 – 40% of sickness in the workplace is due to mental health issues.

What Can an Employer do to Help Themselves, their Businesses and their Employees?

Healthy people are happier, more engaged and more productive. Employers across the UK are acting now to support the wellbeing of their people and create mentally healthy businesses.

Mental Health First Aiders

There are varying levels of training for staff.

A half day course is an introductory four hour session to raise awareness of mental health.

It is designed to give:

  • An understanding of what mental health is and how to challenge stigma
  • A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues
  • An introduction to looking after your own mental health and maintaining wellbeing
  • Confidence to support someone in distress or who may be experiencing a mental health issue

A one day mental health awareness and skills course qualifies you as an MHFA Champion.

MHFA Champions have:

  • An understanding of common mental health issues
  • Knowledge and confidence to advocate for mental health awareness
  • Ability to spot signs of mental ill health
  • Skills to support positive wellbeing

A two day course qualifies a person as a Mental Health First Aider.

Mental Health First Aiders have:

  • An in depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix

If you require further information on Mental Health First Aid courses then give us a call 01527 571611. 


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