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How to remove the stigma of mental health and save billions

29 Jan 2018

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A report on mental health in the workplace, Thriving at Work is a timely alarm call about the pressures in the modern workplace with increasing demands on employers and employees through new technologies, new practices, flexibility, increased competition and ever-demanding targets.

The psychological pressures of the workplace have also changed and for many employees balancing the demands and responsibilities at work with those of home life, can be challenging.  As a result, we see more and more employees seeking support with mental health problems.

The figures are staggering;

  • 1 in 6 adults of working age is experiencing challenges with mental health at any one time
  • Mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with more than 91 million days lost each year due to mental health problems. The total cost to employers is estimated by the report to be £33-£42 billion each year
  • 41 per cent of employers have seen an increase in the reporting of mental health-related issues such as depression or anxiety, with increases generally higher in larger employers
  • The cost of poor mental health to the economy as a whole is estimated at between £74 billion and £99 billion a year.

So, addressing mental health issues at work is a major priority for many of today’s UK businesses and as the report suggests putting in place best practice solutions can make a difference.  Key to success is having open and transparent dialogue in the workplace, a drive to remove the stigma around mental health and having procedures and adaptations in place to offer support.

Remploy’s approach is to help employers build disability confidence and capability, helping them to create the kind of environment that nurtures all talent.  A key element is helping upskill line managers through tailored learning programmes. Mental health, especially identifying and addressing workplace challenges is a huge part of this. This includes building and maintaining resilience using our very popular Mental Health First Aid courses. To find out more click here.

The benefit to employers is best illustrated by a study in The Lancet by the Australian Fire Service which found that a manager mental health training programme could lead to a significant reduction in work-related sickness absence, with an associated return on investment of £9.98 for £1 spent on such training.

Remploy operates the Access to Work Workplace Mental Health Support Service on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions which over the last five years has supported more than 10,000 people and has achieved an impressive 93 per cent success rate of people retaining their employment six months after joining the programme.

The service is delivered by experienced vocational rehabilitation consultants who have a significant knowledge and understanding of mental health issues and offers a range of face-to-face and telephone-based support.

A significant majority of people accessing the service have issues with depression or anxiety, although the service has also supported people with schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and individuals who self-harm.

More than half of those who access the service also experience a wide range of other health or disability-related issues, such as physical pain or learning difficulties like dyslexia.

The service can support individuals who are at work but underperforming or struggling to focus due to mental health challenges through to those who may be off on long-term sick and are struggling to return to work.

Employers and individuals can find out more by contacting:

0300 4568114

By Matt Reed, Remploy Director, Employer Services