Mental Health at Work

Thursday 26th October 2017

There has been a recent report that stated that long-term mental health problems cost the UK overall a loss of 300,000 jobs which also results in a staggering £99bn loss to the economy. After she commissioned the report, PM May said that “we need to take action”.

Even though there has been a development in the awareness of mental health from the creation of the Mental Health Act 1983, this is very much a taboo subject where people are not comfortable to speak about their issues in the open. This can be mainly in the fear that it will leave vulnerable, feel judged or simply an outcast. Increasing numbers of UK citizens experience high levels of anxiety, stress and depression.

Currently there is more support in for young people for mental health. The usual procedure is to go to you GP and request to be seen by a professional in the field which is CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) which is for people under the age of 18. However, when people cross over the threshold there are many challenges in finding the support needed from the NHS. On their website they state that there are services available but only in emergency cases which may be when someone is in a critical mental state. There are only short-term services available for adults such as reading through the information provided or calling the Samaritan helpline. This shows that even there have been many campaigns such as Mental Health Week, Time to Change and Heads Together; there is still not much help from Government services. A recent report found that 40 per cent of the mental health trusts in England had seen cuts to their budgets, and figures show mental health trusts received none of the extra £8bn funding for the NHS over the last four years.

The report has shown the key issues that need to be addressed by employees to battle the stigma and have support at work available for people suffering. It said that employers should:

  • Create a mental health at work plan
  • Build mental health awareness by making information and support accessible
  • Encourage open conversations
  • Provide good working conditions and ensure employees have a healthy work-life balance
  • Promote effective people management, with line managers holding regular conversations about health and well-being with their staff
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health

It also showed that currently only 11% of employers have policy to support people in the workplace struggling with this which is shocking, costing £42bn each year for employers due to staff suffering from mental health problems.

Introducing a workplace intervention in the form of an employee screening and care management for those living with (or at risk of) depression was estimated to cost £30.90 per employee for assessment, and a further £240.00 for the use of CBT to manage the problem, in 2009. According to an economic model, in a company of 500 employees where two thirds are offered and accept the treatment, an investment of £20,676 will result in a net profit of approximately £83,278 over a two-year period.

Promoting wellbeing at work through personalised information and advice, a risk-assessment questionnaire, seminars, workshops and web-based materials will cost approximately £80 per employee per year. For a company with 500 employees, where all employees undergo the intervention, it is estimated that an initial investment of £40,000 will result in a net return of £347,722 in savings, mainly due to reduced presenteeism (lost productivity that occurs due to an employee working while ill) and absenteeism (missing work due to ill health).

Sources: Mental Health.org, The Sun, The Independent, BBC News and Rethink.

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