The mental health of the UK workforce is in a grim state, according to a major new survey. More than three quarters of the 20,000 workers aged 16- to 64 who took part said they had experienced symptoms of poor mental health, and nearly two thirds of those with mental health problems felt work was a factor.
The study (pdf), published on 4 October 2016 by charity Business In The Community (BITC), in partnership with YouGov, also found a shocking lack of employer awareness and responsiveness. More than half of the employees who disclosed their symptoms of poor mental health said their employers took no action. A minority of managers (22%) surveyed said that they’d had training in spotting and supporting employees who are struggling, and most managers (63%) said they felt obliged to put the interests of their organisation above the wellbeing of team members.
But that is obviously a false dichotomy. You don’t need to be a business guru to see that maintaining physical and mental wellbeing in the workforce is an essential prerequisite to growing a healthy and sustainable business.
The business case for investing in a proactive approach to wellbeing is indisputable. Mental ill health is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with more than 15m absence days attributed to stress, anxiety and depression in 2013, at a cost to the UK economy of £8.4bn. The Centre for Mental Health has also calculated that presenteeism, the practice of staying at work more hours than required, usually because of job insecurity, costs the UK economy £15.1bn per annum.
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