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Mental health problems cause 300,000 to leave work each year

Published on 26/10/17 at 09:30am
Image: Time to change

A report commissioned by Prime Minister, Theresa May, has found that 300,000 people are leaving their positions of work after experiencing mental health problems.

Coupled to this finding was the research behind the report also finding that mental health issues can cost the UK economy up to £99 billion every year.

The number of people leaving employment due to struggling with their mental health was found to be 50% higher than those who were forced to leave due to physical conditions.

The authors of the report, Thriving at Work, stated that they were surprised by the sheer numbers of individuals who were forced to leave work through mental health problems. They identified a number of factors that were involved, including that there is currently a general lack of support in the workplace, a lack of understanding of such issues and an inability to access mental health services quickly.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and co-author of the report, 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.”

The report advised companies to implement six “mental health core standards”, which cover mental health at work plans, mental health awareness for employees, line management responsibilities and routine monitoring of staff mental health and wellbeing.

The government said it would act on the advice of the report to ensure that employees had tailored in-house mental health support. May is expected to write to various industry bodies to encourage them to also follow the guidelines outlined in the report.

Dennis Stevenson, former chairman of HBOS and co-author of the report, said:

“We need the right leadership among employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and a mandate from policy-makers to deliver our ambitious but achievable plan. It’s time for every employer to recognise their responsibilities and affect change, so that the UK becomes a world leader in workplace wellbeing for all staff and in supporting people with mental health problems to thrive at work.”

Ben Hargreaves

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