The Cost of Mental Illness in the Workplace

October 10, 2015

Mental ill health is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK & costs the economy £8.4 billion every year




Mental illness – something extreme that happens to “weaker” people but not something you’re concerned about yourself, right? Maybe the definition needs a rethink. 


A global epidemic


According to the World Health Organisation, “if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally”. That’s quite a strong claim, but when you think about today’s pressures and strains, and the frenetic pace at which we live our lives, it’s no surprise.


The fact is, mental ill health is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. With more than 15 million absence days attributed to stress in 2013, this runs at a cost to the UK economy of £8.4 billion. For a large company this can run into the £millions.  


The impact on the workplace


In a recent survey conducted by charity Business In The Community in partnership with YouGov, 77% of respondents said that they had experienced symptoms of poor mental health, with 68% of those citing work as a factor. Shockingly, it found that 63% of managers still felt obliged to put their organisation’s interests above those of their team members.


“There is a disconnect between the ideals of company bosses and the reality of employees when it comes to mental health. Most board members believe their organisation is supportive on the issue, but 56% of people who have disclosed a mental health issue at work said their employer took no mitigating actions” says Norman Lamb, Lib Dem Health Spokesman.


Many employers underestimate the impact that they can have on the wellbeing of their people, whether positive or negative.


A solution?


More forward thinking, responsive employers have already started to train their staff to spot and support struggling employees, as well as adopting resilience & wellbeing programmes with workshops and wellbeing champions. 


BITC has also published The Workwell Model, which aims to provide practical support to help businesses develop effective wellbeing strategies (see graphic).


The 10th October marked World Mental Health Awareness Day, a time to educate and raise awareness of mental Illness and its effects on people’s lives. With mental ill health expected to touch more than 10% of us during our lifetime, it is a much more common problem than we give it credit for.


Urban Guru’s services are aimed at arming people with coping strategies to deal with the stresses and strains of modern life, delivered directly to them in the workplace, through you.


Urban Guru can help boost your employees' resilience and wellbeing through our Corporate Yoga programmes and our DoJo Corporate Mindfulness Workshops.






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