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Employers must invest into mental health, study suggests

View profile for Sally Morris
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A new survey has revealed that just one in five employees feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace – amid figures that show that 300,000 jobs are lost each year due to mental health problems.

Opinium Research, which published the study, said “more conversations on health at work will shed greater light on mental health and aide those afflicted to open up about their problems”.

Its research found that a quarter of workers feel as though they cannot confide in anyone about their mental health, while 15 per cent have some form of “wellbeing officer” at work.

And not surprisingly, people feel more comfortable talking about physical health problems (42 per cent) at work than they do about their mental health.

The report comes as figures show that hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs each year as a consequence of mental ill-health – costing employers more than £42 billion.

Commenting on the statistics, Paul Farmer, Chief executive of mental health charity 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 to 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 figures have sparked experts to urge employers to improve workplace mental health practices, which have been proven to boost productivity and employee retention. A recent review found that for every £1 an employer puts into a mental health scheme at work, they will get back £9 in added output.

James Endersby, managing director of Opinium, added: “Mental health is increasingly, and deservedly, becoming a topic that the UK is broaching. Our research has revealed that UK workers are more likely to discuss a physical affliction than mental ill-health, which is something that will continue to leave such people suffering in silence.”