Spotlight on mental health in the workplace

The term 'mental health' itself is not a legal definition but rather usually refers to a continuum which includes emotional well-being, mental health conditions and mental illnesses. Mental health, like physical health, can fluctuate but everyone's experience of mental health is different and unique to them. It would now seem that as a society we recognise the need to and benefits of taking more proactive steps to invest in addressing and improving mental health. In some cases, employers will be legally obliged to take certain steps if the legal definition of disability is met, as considered further below. It is worth pausing to reflect on some of the headline statistics given added prominence during Mental Health Week earlier this month:
  • 1 in 6 workers suffer from anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress each year.
  • 74% of people with a mental health problem for more than a year are out of work.
  • 55% of those with depression or anxiety for more than a year are out of work.
  • 49% of workers would not be comfortable disclosing a mental health issue at work.
  • Workplace mental ill-health costs employers around £26 billion per year.
  • In 2015, 18 million days were lost to sickness absence caused by mental health conditions.
  • Those with a severe and enduring mental illness are exposed to premature mortality rates of up to 15-20 years.
Even this small selection of statistics is pretty harrowing and a reflection of the work to be done as a society and in business circles in promoting mental well-being. This issue is certainly now gaining more political attention. Excerpt from Shoo Smiths, read the full article here.

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