Following the release of IOSH’s Chief Medical Officer’s annual report, IOSH are advising employers to do more to recognise the impact of work on mental health.
The report recommended employers to allow people with mental health problems the option of flexible working to keep them in employment, and that bosses also maintain regular contact with any staff on sick leave. It also highlighted 14 other recommended actions, including that NICE analyse the cost benefit of providing a psychiatric provision for people with mental illness who risk falling out of work, with the aim of maximising their ability to stay employed.
Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said of the report: “Dame Sally Davies rightly highlights the huge human and financial costs of failing to deal with mental health issues. Employers, professionals and government all have important roles to play. We need all work to be ‘good work’ – well-designed and managed and flexible and supportive – so that mental health is protected and promoted. A degree of employee control, supportive managers and timely access to evidence-based interventions are all parts of this equation.”
There were 70 million working days lost because of mental illness in the UK in 2013, and since 2009, the number of sick days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has increased by 24 per cent, costing the UK economy between £70 billion and £100 billion a year.
The report also states there was “compelling evidence for the health and economic benefits that will accrue from better mental health in the working age population”, and recommends more parity of esteem between physical and mental health, improved training for GPs, continued action on stigma and agreement on waiting times and access standards across mental health services.