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17 October 2019
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Stressed man
About 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year

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30 October 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, with an annual cost to the UK economy of between £74 billion and £99 billion, according to a review commissioned by Theresa May. 


The Thriving at Work report - authored by Paul Farmer and Dennis Stevenson - states that investing in supporting mental health at work is good for business and productivity.

The most important recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt six ‘mental health core standards’ that lay basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health. 

It also details how large employers and the public sector can develop these standards further through a set of ‘mental health enhanced standards’. 

The review also makes a series of recommendations to government and other bodies, including that “Government explores the potential to incentivise employers, especially SMEs, to implement the mental health core standards, including building on evidence from the West Midlands ‘wellbeing premium’ trial”.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “We found that in many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject and that opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who may be struggling get the support they need. In many instances employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.

“The human cost of failing to address mental health in the workplace is clear. Workplace mental health should be a priority for organisations across the UK. Every employer in the UK has a responsibility to support employees with mental health problems and promote the mental wellbeing of their entire workforce.”

Dennis Stevenson, the mental health campaigner and a former HBOS chair, said: “In light of the demonstrable impact of poor workplace wellbeing on individuals, employers and the UK economy, we are calling on the Government to accept the recommendations in full, and to introduce the core standards in the public sector. We need the right leadership among employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and a mandate from policy-makers to deliver our ambitious but achievable plan.