Bloomfield Health

The Importance of Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace


Dr Alister Baird


28 Aug 2023

This simplistic view fails to consider how promoting healthy mental health can permeate through a company and foster a culture of respect, care, and mutual support in which employees feel that their company seriously values their contributions and them as a part of the collective, not just as a mechanism to increase their bottom line. The far reaching implications of the company culture are not easily captured, but recent research has shown that employees who feel valued by their companies experience higher job satisfaction, resulting in better performance and happiness (Sari et al., 2021).

The Importance of Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

In recent times, the world has witnessed a significant surge in mental health issues, particularly in the context of the workplace. A recent article ( sheds light on the UK government's concerns and proposed strategies to address this pressing issue.

A Rising Concern

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has expressed his intention to address the increasing number of individuals unable to work due to long-term mental health issues in his upcoming Autumn Statement. The goal is to retain these individuals in their jobs and reduce their dependence on benefits. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated the situation, leading to a spike in such cases, which in turn has intensified labour shortages and increased the expenditure on health and disability benefits. Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, is spearheading an initiative to reintegrate more people into the workforce. This includes potential tax breaks and subsidies for workplace occupational health services. There's also a call for a comprehensive system overhaul, including modifications to the issuance of sick notes by doctors. The aim is to motivate general practitioners to recommend work-related support schemes as part of their patients' treatment plans.

Economic Implications

The economic repercussions of this issue are profound. The Office for Budget Responsibility disclosed that the rise in health-related economic inactivity has been costing the government an additional £16 billion annually since the pandemic's onset. This amount comprises both increased welfare spending and lost tax revenues. Currently, around 2.6 million people are economically inactive due to prolonged illness, marking a 23% increase over the past decade. The expenditure on sickness and disability benefits is projected to escalate from £53 billion to £69 billion by 2027.

Mental Health Statistics

Recent data from the ONS revealed that over 1.35 million individuals, which constitutes 53% of those inactive due to long-term sickness, reported experiencing depression, anxiety, or bad nerves in the initial three months of 2023. However, the majority identified it as a secondary health condition. Furthermore, NHS data indicates a substantial rise in the number of "fit notes" issued by GPs over the past few years, with mental and behavioural disorders being the predominant diagnosis.

The Need for Proactive Measures

Experts in the field, like Andy Bell, the CEO of the Centre for Mental Health, emphasize the compounded impact of current economic challenges and the traumas of the pandemic, leading to heightened distress levels in the population. There's a pressing need for financial incentives for companies to bolster mental health support for their employees, establish comprehensive waiting time standards analogous to those for physical health, expand the mental health workforce, and introduce a more adaptable sick-pay system

The Bigger Picture

Sir Norman Lamb, chair of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, underscores the often overlooked contribution of mental health to the productivity dilemma and the decline in labour market participation post-pandemic. He advocates for a significant commitment towards preventive services rather than solely focusing on crisis-end mental health services.

The Imperative of Investing in Employee Mental Health

It's undeniable that companies must prioritize investing in their employees' mental well-being. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Furthermore, for every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for common mental disorders, there's a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

Addressing mental health in the workplace is not just a moral obligation but also an economic necessity. Companies that invest in mental health programs and support are likely to see not only enhanced employee well-being but also improved productivity and reduced absenteeism. More importantly, fostering a company culture of mutual respect and care can increase employee satisfaction, improving corporate productivity as a consequence.

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