Mental Health Workplace wellness

Report: Companies May Be Losing Effective Employees By Not Focusing on Mental Health

As we continue to follow National Mental Health Awareness Month, we were struck by a report released by Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) titled “Mental health and employment.”

According to Workplace Insight, the report notes that “Only a quarter of people with a long term mental health issue are in work.” In other words, companies may be missing the continued benefits of strong employees who no longer work because of long term mental health issues — again raising the importance of a well-run workplace wellness program that includes a strong focus on mental health.

The Workplace Insight post continues: “While 4 in 5 (80.4 percent) non-disabled people are in work, people with mental illness, anxiety or depression have substantially lower employment rates. Only one in four (26.2 percent) people with a mental illness lasting (or expected to last) more than a year are in work. Less than half (45.5 percent) of people with depression or anxiety lasting more than 12 months are in work.”

It adds: “The TUC is concerned that this suggests employers are failing to make adequate changes in the workplace to enable people with mental illnesses, anxiety or depression to get a job, or stay in work. Mental health problems can often be ‘invisible’ to others, so a lack of mental health awareness amongst managers and employers is also likely to be a factor.”

The TUC writes: “Disabled people with long term depression and particularly those with mental illness or phobias are under-represented in employment. 45.5 per cent of disabled people with health problems lasting or expected to last more than one year who had depression and anxiety as their main health problem, were in employment (471,725 people). Just 26.2 per cent of disabled people experiencing long term mental illness or phobias as their primary, or most significant, health issue, were in employment (118,342 people).”

It adds: “The TUC believes in the social model of disability which emphasises the barriers placed in the way of disabled people’s inclusion, and places the onus on the employer to make changes to the workplace to make it accessible to disabled people3. Many disabled people are prevented from working because adequate adjustments are not made in the workplace to enable them to do so. This is also important as some people may become disabled while they are at work, which may require adaptations to their job. And some people have to leave work due to becoming disabled because they do not get the right changes in the workplace.”

The TUC conclusion is clear: “Significant government and employer action is therefore still required to address the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people.”