Mental health costs up to 300,000 jobs a year

The Thriving at Work report has called for more help in tackling mental health issues in the workplace after it was revealed mental health problems cost the UK economy up to £99bn each year as people have to quit their jobs.

As the report finds 300,000 people leave their jobs due to pressures and being unable to talk about mental illness, the report gives practical advice to employers in a time where people would rather discuss sex and money over their mental health.

Charity Time to Change polled 2,025 UK workers and discovered that mental health in the workplace remains a taboo. 36 per cent said they would rather open up about a physical health matter, 26 per cent about money problems and 18 per cent about sex – but only 13 per cent selected mental health.

The Business in the Community Mental Health at Work Report 2017 revealed some other interesting statistics about the state of our workforce. 31 per cent of the UK workforce have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue, with three out of every five employees experiencing mental health issues because of work.

91 per cent of managers agreed that what they do in work affects the wellbeing of their staff, yet only 58 per cent of employees believe that their line manager is concerned about their wellbeing.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, and co-author of the Thriving at Work report, said: “Opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure that employees who may be struggling get the support they need.”

The review made 40 recommendations for how to support employees to remain at work, with tips such as:

  • Create an online web portal and use digital technology to support workers – by making information and support accessible
  • Create a mental health at work plan and routinely monitor employee mental health
  • Encourage open conversations around the topic, with line managers holding regular conversations about health and well-being with their staff
  • Provide good working conditions so that people enjoy the place they spend so much of their time at, and can maintain a healthy work-life balance

Companies are also encouraged to start including a section on employee mental health in their annual reports. The report was commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May, who claimed that “we need to take action,” and following the report, the civil service has agreed to take on the recommendations.

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