Mental health problems cost 300,000 UK jobs every year

New report urges employers to commit to workplace plan to support staff

An office worker
Thousands of workers are struggling with mental health issues
(Image credit: Menahem Kahaha/AFP/Getty Images)

Long-term mental health problems cause as many as 300,000 people to leave their jobs every year, a new UK government-commissioned report reveals.

The “Thriving at Work” review, published today, found that the number of people forced to stop work as a result of mental issues was 50% higher than for those with physical health conditions, The Guardian reports.

The annual cost to the UK economy is estimated at up to £99bn a year - prompting Prime Minister Theresa May to call on employers to take action.

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Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health charity Mind - who co-authored the report with mental health campaigner and former HBOS chair Dennis Stevenson - says that in many workplaces, mental health is still “a taboo subject”, and warns that opportunities to help prevent mental health problems are being missed, according to the ITV News website.

The report recommends that employers “produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan”, while also developing awareness and encouraging conversations about mental health in the workplace. Employees should also be provided with a better work-life balance, it says, and line managers and supervisors should be given better training in people management, along with monitoring the mental health of their workforce.

Australian workplace mental health group Return To Work has compiled a list of early warning signs that a staff member may be having problems. These include “not getting things done”, developing a “fixation with fair treatment issues”, and “withdrawing from colleagues”. Physical symptoms include “persistent/resistant musculo-skeletal complaints”, being “sick and run down”, and significant weight loss or gain.

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