Employment and Mental Health

"Work is good for health... There is strong evidence that work:

  • Promotes recovery and aids rehabilitation
  • Leads to better heath outcomes
  • Minimises the harmful effects of long-term sickness absence
  • Improves quality of life and wellbeing
  • Reduces social exclusion and poverty"

The benefits of work on both mental and physical health are well documented; yet mental illness is now the largest category of occupational ill health.

Getting and keeping work

We know that employment is an integral part of recovery from mental ill health. That there are very large (and growing) numbers of people with a mental illness who are unemployed, yet most want to work. Both research and practice has shown us that given the right support the vast majority can take up and sustain employment.

Although there is considerable research regarding the most effective interventions to place and support people with established mental health problems in the workplace there is relatively little for working with people with common mental health problems. Various interventions including employment advisors working in GP surgeries have been set up to address this.

In the workplace

"Most common health problems can be accommodated at work if:

  • A flexible approach is adopted
  • All players work together to overcome obstacles"

The development of mental health problems within the working population is becoming an increasingly important issue in the UK.

91 million days are lost each year due to mental health problems. The combined costs of sickness absence, non-employment, effects on unpaid work and output losses is £26 billion a year.

But employers can make a difference. There are a number of factors which support a healthy and productive workplace, particularly:

  • promoting worker involvement,
  • encouraging staff support,
  • promoting autonomy and employee job control,
  • minimizing work pressure,
  • having clear expectations,
  • providing on-going access to support, particularly the availability of natural supports in the workplace.

However, the most strongly associated factor with successful job retention is the support of the manager or supervisors.

'Mindful Employer' practice resources

This list of resources for employers concerned about how to manage mental ill health in the workplace also contains a policy overview. It has been developed jointly by Centre for Mental Health, the Disability Rights Commission and the Mindful Employer Network. You can download the list below.

Download August 2007 Resources List (Word, 139 KB)

Briefing 47: Barriers to employment

The briefing looks at what interventions work as well, where gaps exist in evidence-based interventions as well as some current models of supported employment and urges commissioners and providers of both employment services and health and social care to make support into employment a priority.

£5.00 for a paper copy or FREE to download

Download size: 551KB

Download 551KB

Mental Health at Work

Mental Health at Work - Publication Cover Image Mental ill health costs employers nearly £26 billion each year. This paper looks at the costs of ignoring mental distress at work.

£5.00 for a paper copy or FREE to download

Download size: 292 KB

Download 292 KB

Working it out: employment for people with a mental health condition

The NHS Confederation has produced a guide to mental health and employment. It outlines the key themes from recently launched government policies in this field and sets out actions for the NHS, as both an employer and service provider.