By Bridgetta Anderson

The report is called Thriving at Work.

But its results prove that people with long-term mental health issues are doing anything but.

In fact, around 300,000 people a year will lose their jobs because of their battles with the Black Dog.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, has co-written the report with mental health campaign and former HBOS chair Dennis Stevenson. And they were shocked to find the level of employees forced to give up work as a result of mental health problems was 50% higher than for those with physical health conditions.

Meaning of the £99 billion cost to the UK economy from poor mental health, £42 billion is borne by employers.

Sitting through a training course this week, I listened to a fellow executive confess that she suffered from anxiety – which she worked hard to manage and overcome every day. You would never know it from her outgoing personality and larger-than-life character. But numerous people suffer in silence from the invisible Black Dog of mental health issues. And it remains a taboo in so many workplaces.

Farmer revealed: “Sometimes in organisations people feel themselves excluded as a result of their mental health issues and sometimes people don’t necessarily spot that somebody is struggling.” 

But despite this heavy challenge, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The report has discovered that with action, dramatic changes could be made over the next decade.

With around 1 in 6 workers currently showing symptoms of an existing mental health condition, the right support could help them thrive in employment.

The economic benefits would be overwhelming – a Deloitte analysis reckons that for every £1 invested in mental health support, a return of between £1.50 and £9 would be achieved for business.

Thames Water has implemented mental health first aid courses, while Aviva promotes e-learning modules so workers can identify if their colleagues, or even themselves, might need support.

Farmer and Stevenson want all employers to commit to six core standards around mental health…

Farmer added: “What we feel is really important is that organisations take responsibility for the mental health of their staff.

“Employers are recognising that this is an issue, but they don’t know what to do. That’s why we’ve recommended these core standards.”

In the same way prospective employees may have asked companies about their green policies a decade ago, many are now believed to be enquiring about a business’ mental health support framework.

The tide is changing. If employers get on board with realising our mental health is just as important as our physical wellbeing, we can all be thriving at work.


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