A total of 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their job every year, a landmark, Government-commissioned report has found.
Mental health also costs businesses £42billion a year while the overall annual cost to the economy is up to £99 billion, according to the report Thriving At Work, whose authors warn the scale of the problem is greater than they thought.
Theresa May, who commissioned the report in January, reacted by announcing NHS England and the Civil Service would abide by the report’s 40 recommendations, which include routine monitoring of staff’s mental health and a comprehensive plan for it.
The report authors Lord Stevenson and NHS Mental Health Taskforce chair Paul Farmer write: “Our work has revealed that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work that is much larger than we had thought.
“Not only is there a big human cost of poor mental health at work, there are also knock on impacts for society, the economy and Government. Employers are losing billions of pounds because employers are less productive, less effective, or off sick.”
The report also said 15% of people at work show symptoms of of a mental health condition.
More than half of the estimated cost to businesses is “presenteeism”, when mentally unwell people still come to work and are unproductive as a result of their problem, the report found.
The Government said Civil Service and NHS England employees would now have “guaranteed tailored in-house mental health support”, thanks to the report’s recommendations.
May is also writing to the Confederation of Business Industry, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses to encourage them to do the same.
“I have made it a priority of this government to tackle the injustice of mental illness,” she said.
“Vital to this is the need to have a comprehensive cross-government plan which transforms how we deal with mental illness not only in our hospitals or crisis centres but in our classrooms, shop floors and communities…
“It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical wellbeing.”