Mental health at work

This report finds that mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year. The largest part of this business cost is in the form of reduced productivity among people who are at work but unwell: or ‘presenteeism’.

This costs businesses twice as much as sickness absence relating to poor mental health.

The updated figures highlight that the overall costs are broken down into:

  • £10.6 billion in sickness absence;
  • £21.2 billion in reduced productivity at work, or ‘presenteeism’
  • £3.1 billion in replacing staff who leave their jobs because of their mental health.
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Mental health issues higher in public sector workers

Survey from Mental Health charity, Mind finds a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the public sector, as well as a lack of support available when people do speak up.

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The charity surveyed over 12,000 employees across the public and private sectors and found that public sector workers were more likely to say their mental health was poor than their peers in the private sector (15% versus 9%), and far more likely to say they had felt anxious at work on several occasions over the last month (53% compared to 43%).

Public sector workers were more likely to disclose that they had a mental health problem (90% versus 80% in the private sector), were more likely to be honest about the reason for needing time off (69% versus 59%), and more likely to report that the workplace culture made it possible for people to speak openly about their mental health (38% versus 29%).

However, when public sector employees admitted mental health problems, less than half (49%) of them said they felt supported, compared with 61% of staff from the private sector.

Full story: Mind reveals shocking differences in mental health support for public & private sector workers

Employment and Mental Health

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published Employment and mental health.

This report outlines the main priorities and activities of the Royal College in the area of mental health and employment.  It also examines national initiatives on mental health and employment and summarises a roundtable meeting which examined current priorities.

The full paper can be downloaded here

Suicide prevalence in Engalnd by occupation

Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis reveals which professions have the highest risk of suicide. | Public Health England | ONS

An analysis of ONS suicide prevalence statistics for 2011 to 2015 has been carried out to gain a better understanding of factors that influence suicide, in order to inform the government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy and help identify where inequalities exist amongst different groups.

The new ONS analysis shows that suicides are less common for females than males, and that there are differences in the types of occupation where suicide is more common. For women, occupations with a high risk of suicide include nurses (23% above the national average), primary school teachers (42% above average) and those working in culture, media and sport (69% above average).

For men, low skilled labourers in construction had a risk that was 3 times higher than that the average for England; men working in skilled construction jobs also had an increased risk. Both male and female care workers have a risk of suicide that was almost twice the national average.

To coincide with this publication, Public Health England, Business in the Community (BITC) and Samaritans have joined forces to produce toolkits for employers on how to prevent suicide and how to minimise the impact when it does happen.

The toolkits produced by PHE, BITC and Samaritans include advice on steps employers can take action to prevent suicides and support them and their teams when responding to the death of an employee caused by suicide.

Download the suicide prevention toolkit for employers.

Download the suicide postvention toolkit for employers.

Impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction and obesity

The Department of Works and Pensions has published An Independent Review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity.

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The government asked Professor Dame Carol Black to undertake an independent review into how best to support people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or are obese, to start, return or remain in work.

 

This review provides an evidence-based analysis of the factors that stand in the way of employment and recommends practical interventions to help overcome them.

Read the full review here

Added value: mental health as a workplace asset

The Mental Health Foundation has published a report ‘Added value: mental health as a workplace asset’.

The report shows that the value added by people with mental health problems in the workforce is greater than the costs arising. Improving and protecting mental health secures that value and should help reduce cost.

The key findings of the report are:

People living with mental health problems contributed an estimated £226 billion gross value added (12.1%) to UK GDP. This is 12.1% of GDP overall, and as high as nine times the estimated cost to economic output arising from mental health problems at work.

Work is a key factor in supporting and protecting mental health. The workplace mental health and wellbeing survey identified that 86% of all respondents believed that their job and being at work was important to protecting and maintaining their mental health.

Distress is an issue that affects a major proportion of the workforce, whether people have experienced a mental health problem or not. Most survey respondents who had experienced a mental health problem, and over a third of respondents who had not, reported that distress had left them less productive than they would like.

Disclosure can be a positive experience, but discrimination and self-stigma remain big issues. A majority of respondents to the workplace mental health and wellbeing survey who disclosed a mental health problem to an employer described it as an overall positive experience, and were more aware of the support available to them than those who had not. However, the negative experience of a significant minority in part legitimises the fears of those who have chosen not to disclose.

Many employers lack systems to recognise and address mental health at work. The workplace mental health and wellbeing survey suggests that many employers lack systems to recognise and address mental health at work, especially in relation to absence management and making adjustments.

Read more here

Health and work: infographics

A series of infographics intended to help raise awareness and understanding of the relationship between health and work.

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Image source: http://www.gov.uk

Public Health England (PHE) and The Work Foundation have collaborated to produce the following 12 infographics:

  1. Spotlight on mental health
  2. Cost of ill health
  3. Health of the working age population
  4. Health of UK employees
  5. Spotlight on musculoskeletal conditions (MSK)
  6. Managing health at work for employers
  7. Spotlight on small medium enterprises (SME)
  8. Unemployment and economic inactivity
  9. Welfare
  10. The local picture
  11. Supporting older workers with health problems
  12. Young people and health at work

These infographics are intended to help public health practitioners, local authorities and policy makers to make the case and inform planning on embedding health, work and worklessness within and across these issues.