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Some 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, according to a new study which looks at the impact of mental health in the workplace.
The Thriving at Work report by the independent review into workplace mental health, commissioned by the Prime Minister in January and led by Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, looks at how employers can better support all employees including those with poor mental health or wellbeing remain in and thrive at work.
Analysis by Deloitte, commissioned by the reviewers, also shows poor mental health costs the UK economy between £74 billion and £99 billion a year. Deloitte’s analysis shows that the cost to employers is between £33 billion and £42 billion of this number. Evaluations of workplace interventions show a return to business of between £1.50 and £9 for every £1 invested.
Drawing on the accounts of over 200 employers of people with mental health problems and leading experts in mental health and work, Thriving at Work sets out core principles and standards that all employers should commit to. It highlights examples of some employers who are taking positive and innovative steps to support the mental health of their employees.
The reviewers are calling on all employers, regardless of size or industry, to adopt six ‘mental health core standards’ that lay the basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health. These cover mental health at work plans, mental health awareness for employees, line management responsibilities and routine monitoring of staff mental health and wellbeing. The report calls for large employers and the public sector to go further and demonstrate best practice through external reporting and designated leadership responsibility.
Other recommendations include the creation of an online health and wellbeing portal to help employers access the tools and guidance they need; additional support for small and medium enterprises; the use of digital technology as a means to support those working remotely or in the gig economy; changes to legislation to offer better protection for staff with mental health problems; and measures to ensure that workplace mental health is promoted and enhanced through greater transparency and the role of regulators.
The review makes a number of specific recommendations for Government to support these changes, including implementing them within the public sector, and ensuring the NHS continues to prioritise mental health services enabling individuals to access high quality treatment while maintaining employment.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said: “We found that in many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject and that opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who may be struggling get the support they need. In many instances employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.
“The human cost of failing to address mental health in the workplace is clear. Workplace mental health should be a priority for organisations across the UK. Every employer in the UK has a responsibility to support employees with mental health problems and promote the mental wellbeing of their entire workforce.”