A leading disability employment specialist is urging employers to tackle the problem of stress in the workplace to help cut the £26bn cost of mental ill health at work.
Remploy, which supports disabled and disadvantaged people into work and helps them stay there, issued the plea on National Stress Awareness Day (5th November).
“One in four adults in the UK will experience a mental health condition in any given year,” said Amanda Mcburney, senior operations manager for Remploy’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
“The estimated cost of mental health to UK employers is thought to be £26bn, which averages out at £1,035 per employee. Last year alone 15.2 million days of sickness absence across the UK were caused by stress, anxiety or depression, so this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously.
“Companies that ignore stress in the workplace risk exposing themselves to higher staff turnover, reduced competitiveness and damaged corporate reputation.”
A recent survey by the mental health charity Mind revealed that almost a third of respondents felt they wouldn’t be able to talk openly with their manager if they were stressed. Of those who said they had taken time off with stress, only five per cent said the main reason they had given their employer was that they were too stressed to work.
In December 2011 Remploy won contracts to run the Government’s flagship Workplace Mental Health Support Service (WMHSS), in Britain. 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, including stress.
WMHSS, which is part of the Government’s Access to Work scheme, provides six months’ work based support to enable individuals with mental health conditions to retain their employment. The support may involve assistance developing work based coping strategies or identifying reasonable adjustments, education and guidance for managers and signposting to additional mental health support and resources. It is impartial and confidential, comes at no cost to either 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.
“Ninety per cent of clients who completed the scheme are still in work,” said Mcburney. “I’m hugely encouraged by the high success rate achieved so far – we have helped people who, without support, may well have fallen out of employment and be claiming benefits."
Seven tips for tackling stress
1 Contact the Workplace Mental Health Support Service on 0345 268 8489
2 Take control - there is a solution to every problem. One example is managing your time better
3 Be positive - by changing your perspective, you may see your situation from a more positive point of view
4 Work smarter, not harder - prioritise work and focus on quality not quantity
5 It's good to talk - a good network of colleagues, friends and family can ease work troubles
6 Be more active - physical activity can boost health and increase positivity
7 Have more 'me' time - we work the longest hours in Europe, so put aside time away from work, even if it's one or two evenings a week
For further information and interview requests, please contact Remploy press office: 0300 456 81216