Mental Health Costly For UK Employees and Employers

Mental Health Issues

A new report commissioned by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has found that mental health challenges are a much larger problem than initially thought. The review, titled “Thriving at Work” was undertaken to see how employers could potentially better support the mental health of people in employment.

This report is particularly important as there is still unfortunately a stigma attached to mental health in the workplace. A study by DPG found that a shocking 85% of workers in the UK felt that there was still some form of stigma attached to mental health issues.

As such, it can be understandable that for workers with any potential issues they may be unwilling to speak up for fear of being treated unfairly or not taken seriously. This is particularly worrisome as this can often exacerbate problems due to the feelings of isolation and marginalisation that occur along with workers ignoring the state of their mental health.

This is backed up by the fact that a further 58% would not be comfortable with telling their manager about an issue with only 20% feeling their manager was equipped to deal with mental health issues.

Mental Health Problems Costly

The report for the government particularly outlined that mental health problems can be incredibly costly for employers in the UK, with the annual cost being estimated at between £33 billion and £42 billion according to an independent study by Deloitte. A particularly large portion of this came from presenteeism, where an employer reports to work but is less productive.

It is also incredibly costly for the government with the cost estimated between £24 billion and £27 billion, which include the fall in tax revenue and the costs to the NHS. A particularly worrying statistic is the personal cost for those suffering with mental health problems.

Around 300,000 people were found to lose their jobs each year, with these individuals suffering from long term mental health problems. This was found to be a much higher rate than for individuals who are suffering from physical health problems, showing that the health of the mind is incredibly important.

Along with this, the research undertaken by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer found that 15% of people who are already in work exhibit symptoms of existing mental health conditions. The good news for employers is that by helping to improve the mental health of employees it can in turn improve the productivity and return on investment.

What Can Employers Do?

Something that is incredibly important for employers to realise and to ensure that managers and employees also understand is that mental health is something that everyone has. The government report notes this as important, stating that everyone fluctuates between being thriving and positive to struggling and being ill, with even the possibility of being off work.

A set of mental health core standards has been suggested in the report for employers to follow which have been created to be easy to implement quickly. Included in these standards are the following:

  • Producing, implementing and communicating a mental health work at work plan
  • Encourage and develop mental health awareness among employees in the workplace
  • Encouraging open conversations about mental health as well as ensuring employees are aware of the support available
  • Providing employees with good working conditions as well as ensuring that employees also have a healthy work life balance
  • Promoting effective people management through both line managers and supervisors
  • Routinely monitoring employees mental health and well being

These standards are just a base guide and employers should consider taking these and improving upon them so that their employees feel comfortable in the workplace. The report also lists further advancements that can be made, in particular with certain areas such as public sector and government.

By making sure that employees have a voice and can be heard without being ostracised, bullied or ignored, the UK can help to become a world leader regarding mental health issues in the workplace.

If you are in need of any help regarding mental health issues then please take a look at the below links:

Mindhttps://www.mind.org.uk/

Rethink Mental Illnesshttps://www.rethink.org/

Samaritanshttp://www.samaritans.org.uk/

Mental Health Foundationhttps://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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