Mental health costs employers up to £42bn a year
The stigma around mental health and the challenges of dealing with mental health problems in the workplace cost employers between £33bn and £42bn each year, according to a government-commissioned independent report.
The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health found the substantial cost to employers nationwide was borne out of"presenteeism" - when individuals are less productive at work - as well as the cost of sickness absence and staff turnover.
It found one-in-seven (15%) employees have symptoms of an existing mental health condition, with 300,000 people leaving their jobs each year because of it.
On top of the cost to employers, poor mental health costs the government about £25bn a year, the report said, which includes the cost of providing benefits, falls in tax revenue and costs to the NHS.
In total, the cost of poor mental health to the economy is believed to be between £75bn and £99bn because of lost output.
The report argued:"At a time when there is a national focus on productivity the inescapable conclusion is that it is massively in the interest of both employers and government to prioritise and invest far more in improving mental health. The UK can ill-afford the productivity cost of this poor mental health."
The ‘Thriving at work' report also said the number of people leaving work with mental health problems could be reduced by 33%, from 300,000 to 200,000 each year, if dealt with properly, bringing the number in line with physical health conditions.
It offered the government, employers and regulators 40 recommendations to implement and deliver necessary changes to the mental health landscape in the workplace.
It said it wanted employers to achieve what it called"mental health core standards".
‘Drivers for change'
GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, welcomed the findings, saying the UK should strive to be one of the leading nations for mental health awareness and support.
It said:"The costs to employers, government and the economy outlined in the review are immense and these alone should be sufficient drivers for change.
"The group risk industry can and does help employers to support the mental health of their workforce and we have long recognised the positive impact of early interventions.
"We would encourage effective utilisation of the varied support services made available to employers alongside group risk core products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness), many of which are aimed at supporting mental health and helping people with mental health conditions stay in or get back to work."
When Prime Minister Theresa May announced the undertaking of the independent review in January she said:"Many employers are already creating healthy, inclusive workplaces, but more needs to be done so that employers provide the support needed for employees with mental health conditions."