Research aims to reduce stigma by calculating employee contributions

Nov 08, 2016

A new study finds workers with mental health conditions add £226 billion to the UK’s economy – a figure researchers say could be much higher.

The research, released by the Mental Health Foundation, Oxford Economics and Unum, aims to challenge the stigma around mental health by quantifying this economic value, which equates to around 12 per cent of GDP.

Check out this City A.M. article on the study

The report also highlights the £25 billion in potential value lost to the UK economy every year through reduced productivity and absenteeism, as a result of untreated or unsupported mental health issues (in Australia, this figure is $10.9 billion).

Chris O'Sullivan, program lead at the Mental Health Foundation, says that this cost could be slashed – and the contribution figure raised even higher – if workplaces had a better understanding of mental health and provided the right kind of support to employees.

“It is critical that we move beyond assuming that a mental health problem is an individual issue. Mental health is an asset we all have, and that companies can and should nurture,” he said.

Worryingly, only 10 per cent of line managers surveyed felt they had sufficient training or experience to deal with mental health problems at work.

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Reducing stigma

The default position on workplace mental health all too often falls into two camps – either a total lack of awareness about the prevalence of mental health conditions and how to provide support; or the belief that a mental health condition means the end of the person’s career.

What the Heads Up team really likes about this focus on the contribution figure is how it challenges this second assumption. People with mental health conditions can and do continue to be valued employees – the key is recognising that everyone is different.

Some people may not share information about their mental health condition with their employer, while others might need some additional support and flexibility in the workplace to achieve their best. 

And that, of course, is good for everyone in the workplace.

How Heads Up can help

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