Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year, according to research published today by Centre for Mental Health.

Mental health at work: The business costs ten years on updates a calculation made ten years ago, when the cost amounted to £26 billion. It finds that the cost is now £34.9 billion as a result of inflation and a rise in the size of the workforce since 2007. This means that mental health problems cost £1,300 for every employee in the UK economy.

Mental health at work: The business costs ten years on finds that by far the largest part of the business cost is in the form of reduced productivity among people who are at work but unwell: or ‘presenteeism’. This costs businesses twice as much as sickness absence relating to poor mental health. The remainder of the cost relates to turnover – people leaving their jobs as a result of poor mental health.

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: “At any one time, one in five working people will have a mental health difficulty. Many will never get any help. Some end up losing their jobs while for others being at work is an important part of recovering from a mental health problem.

“In the ten years since we first published the economic cost of mental health problems at work, more and more employers have started to take the issue seriously and do more to support the wellbeing of their staff. Mental health issues are talked about more widely and more people with mental health problems are speaking about their experiences and seeking help when they need it.

Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.

“The Government’s independent review of work and mental health, led by Paul Farmer and Lord Stevenson, will we hope identify ways of supporting the mental health of working people and helping employers manage wellbeing more effectively. With a £35 billion price tag on doing nothing, this should be a priority for both government and business.

“Employers that take steps to support mental health at work will benefit from a more productive, happy and loyal workforce. Those that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.”


Read the report Mental health at work: The business costs ten years on