Mental Health

Everyone has mental health in the same way as everyone has physical health. Mental ill-health is one of the biggest public health challenges facing society. It is one of the leading causes of sickness absence in the workplace and can cause immense suffering to those experiencing it – as well as those closest to them (CBI, 2013). There are an overwhelming business and moral case for employers to address this challenge with one in six workers experiencing stress, depression or anxiety at any one time.

In 2014, the Business in the Community Wellbeing Campaign published Mental Health: We’re Ready to Talk, which set out the business and moral case for tackling the culture of silence that surrounds mental health. This was against a backdrop of rising challenges and pressures facing the UK population and the rise in common mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. One year on, businesses had made significant progress in breaking down the culture of silence around mental ill-health at work. Our 2015 report, Mental Health: We’re Ready to Talk – One year on, showed the quick pace at which our Champion companies had started to promote mental wellbeing within their organisations. The potential impact from taking action is enormous – programmes led by our Wellbeing Champion businesses alone had the potential to impact nearly half a million employees.

Mental ill health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with over 15 million absence days attributed to stress, anxiety and depression in 2013, and it also accounts for a significant percentage of presenteeism. OECD estimate the cost of mental health to the UK economy to be £70 billion a year, equating to 4.5% of GDP and conversely, Improved engagement is estimated to be worth as much as £25 billion to the UK economy.

1 in 4 people will have mental ill health, 2.6 in 100 people will have depression and 4.7 in 100 people will have anxiety (Mind, 2011). Despite, this fewer than half of those affected by mental ill health feel confident to disclose their condition, leading to issues becoming more severe. Mental ill health costs on average £1035 per employee, costing UK employers £26 billion each year (OECD, 2014). 69% of individuals feel there is a stigma around mental health and 54% fear colleagues would judge them for having mental ill health. While the overall number of individuals with mental health problems has not changed significantly over recent years, increasing worries such as money, job security, job competition, etc. can make it harder to cope (Mind, 2014).

Mental health is one of the biggest threats to the wellbeing of business and society, yet in many workplaces today, employers and employees are unwilling to talk about stress, anxiety and depression openly, fearful of the associations with weakness and failure. BITC Wellbeing is working with leading UK businesses to end the culture of silence around mental health in the workplace. The campaign is calling on every UK organisation to demonstrate their commitment to mental wellbeing by signing the Time to Change organisational pledge. The mental health aspects pertain to all four parts of the Workwell model as mental health feeds into relationships, working, and health.

Key facts:

  • One-quarter of employees has considered resigning due to stress and a further one in ten has done so (Mind, 2015).
  • 34% of line managers still feel un-empowered in their roles and would welcome any move to increase their independent authority (Engage for Success, Bringing the line to life, 2013).
  • Four in five employees have reported that an inclusive leader had improved their performance and productivity (Business in the Community, Inclusive Leadership, 2011).
  • According to CIPD’s Employee Outlook survey, being under too much pressure at least once a month makes individuals feel depressed or anxious, and most say it reduces performance.
  • Presenteeism from mental ill health alone costs the UK economy £15.1 billion per year, almost twice the business cost as actual absence from work (Centre for Mental Health).