Government Getting Behind Mental Health In The Workplace

The government has rallied employers to take greater measures towards improving the mental health of their workforce. Nick Clegg, the deputy minister, together with the care services minister Paul Burstow, has highlighted the fact that mental health costs businesses £1,000 per employee every year. This amounts to £30 billion lost across the British economy every year as a result of lost productivity and sickness absence.

Time to Change

A campaign titled ‘Time to Change’ has been launched in an attempt to combat mental health discrimination in the workplace and employers are being encouraged to sign up to the initiative. Further, they are being encouraged to appoint an employee within their organisations as a mental health expert or to train a number of workers in the techniques to recognise mental health, much in the same way organisations have staff members trained in first aid.

As well as this, the government are encouraging employees to use the NHS Health for Work Adviceline, which was set up to help support both employers and employees working in small/medium enterprises. This service offers occupational health and wellbeing advice for free to employees to continue working through mental health issues or to aid those going back to work after a period of sickness absence.

Driving statistics

In 2010 a survey discovered that 72% of all workplaces in the UK had no formal mental health policy in place and around a quarter of managers could not name any mental health issues. The Department of Health are using the statistics of this survey as a clear drive to promote a change in attitudes towards mental health. BT is also being heralded as a shining example, who witnessed a 30% reduction in mental health related absence since they implemented an appropriate wellbeing strategy. Since its execution, the companies return to work rate has significantly improved and now boasts that 75% of all workers who are absent for more than six months return to work.

Clegg believes that this is an issue and that employers should be taking a greater interest in within their organisations. 70 million working days are lost as a result of mental illness each year – a glaring figure pointing out that something needs to be done about the issue. The Time to Change campaign is a way in which the goals highlighted in mental health strategies can be applied into a practical application for those wishing to tackle the problem. The implementation plans make sure that it is not just a list of goals, but a solid action plan that will help to improve the lives of mental health sufferers.

Gareth writes on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare who offer a number small business health insurance solutions including wellbeing and employee assistance programmes.