Employers' guide to mental ill health
Mental health is a state of well being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community*.
*World Health Organisation
What is mental ill health?
The definition of ‘mental ill health’ or ‘mental health problems’ covers a very wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to the most bleak, suicidal depression or complete loss of touch with everyday reality.
Everybody responds differently to the stresses and strains of modern life and it is common to describe ourselves as ‘depressed’, ‘stressed’ or ‘anxious’ at times. For some, these feelings can become serious enough to make it difficult to carry on with everyday life.
The most common mental health conditions are:
- bipolar disorder
- personality and eating disorders
- self harm and suicide
- drug and alcohol misuse.
In the UK an estimated one in four adults will experience a mental health condition each year. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates the cost of mental health to the UK economy at £70 billion per year – or, put another way, 4.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The annual cost to UK employers of mental ill health at work is thought to be £26 billion, which averages out at £1,035 per employee.To add to the blizzard of worrying statistics, the Office for National Statistics says 15.2 million days of sickness absence across the UK in 2013 were caused by stress, anxiety or depression, an increase from 11.8 million days in 2010.
Impact of mental ill health
Mental illness can affect many areas of people’s lives, impacting on physical health, causing problems finding work and making it difficult managing money.
A recent survey of employees diagnosed with a mental health condition found that fewer than half told their bosses after being diagnosed, which shows too many people still think admitting to having mental ill health will make them look weak.
Supporting staff with mental ill health
In December 2011 Remploy won a contract to run the Government’s flagship Workplace Mental Health Support Service (WMHSS). Since then, its specialist vocational rehabilitation team has helped more than 2,300 people who were at risk of losing their jobs because of their mental health conditions.
WMHSS, which is part of the Government’s Access to Work scheme. It provides six months’ work based support to enable individuals with mental health conditions to retain their employment. The support may involve assistance with developing work based coping strategies or identifying reasonable adjustments, education and guidance for managers and signposting to additional mental health support and resources.
The service is impartial and confidential, comes at no cost to either the employer or employee, can be delivered with or without the support of the employer and is delivered by experts who understand mental health and its impact in the workplace.
Remploy’s advisors are trained and experienced in supporting mental health at work and provide:
- Work focused mental health support for six months, tailored to the individual’s needs.
- Help with identifying suitable coping strategies.
- A personalised support plan, detailing the steps needed to remain in, or return to work.
- Suggestions for adjustments in the workplace, or in working practices, to help the individual carry out their job.
- Advice and guidance for employers on how they can support employees who have a mental health condition.
As an addition to out Mental Health Support Service we have a specific programme to support both the apprentice and employer. It is free, completely confidential and run by fully trained professionals with expertise in mental health.
If you would like to give your staff a better understanding of identifying and dealing with mental ill health in the workplace then take a look at our Disability and health workshop and our Workplace mental wellbeing for line managers training courses.