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Up to 300,000 people with long-term mental health issues lose jobs each year

Employers urged to adopt six mental health core standards to support staff

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Up to 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, an independent review into workplace mental health commissioned by the prime minister in January has found.

The review - led by Lord Dennis Stevenson, mental health campaigner and former HBOS chairman, and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind - has published a report, Thriving at Work. The report outlines 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, quantifies for the first time how investing in supporting mental health at work is good for business and productivity.

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 amount. 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 to which all employers should commit. 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.

Large employers and the public sector are expected to go even further, demonstrating best practice through external reporting and designated leadership responsibility.

Farmer 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.”

Lord Stevenson said: “In light of the demonstrable impact of poor workplace wellbeing on individuals, employers and the UK economy, we are calling on the government to accept the recommendations in full, and to introduce the core standards in the public sector. 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.”

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