A Government commissioned report released today (26th November 2016), found that the UK is facing a much larger mental health challenge in the workplace than thought. Mental health can affect people in many ways, but impacts the lives of many and those around them. The report highlights the human cost is huge and "there are also knock on impacts for society, the economy and Government". In fact, it is estimated that the poor mental health costs the UK economy £99bn annually and employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year.
It is estimated that around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition, with 300,000 people with a long term mental problem, loosing their jobs each year. Of which, this is a significantly higher rate than those with a physical health condition.
A report produced by Deloitte looked at the variation in costs across different sectors. It was estimated that the cost per employee (costs to employers of presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover due to mental health problems) were higher in the public sector (£1,551-£1,878) per year than in the private sector (£1,119-£1,481). Moreover, that industries such as finance and insurance had a higher cost than retail and leisure sectors. Deloitte examined existing workplace interventions, finding the potential to generate a return to business of between £1.50 and £9 for every £1 invested.
Farmer and Stevenson, who authored the report, want employers to introduce 6 core standards:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
- Develop mental health awareness among employees
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
- Provide employees with good working conditions
- Promote effective people management
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and well being
Whilst a lot of work has been done around reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace and increasing examples of good work place practice, for many employers, it is still unclear what they can do to help.
The report outlines 40 recommendations around the following core topics: The importance of transparency and leadership, external support for employers and the role of regulators, the public sectors involvement, the governments involvement and the implementation and delivery.