The director of a leading occupational health provider has called on employers to embrace Mental Health Week, taking place from 11-17 May.
Gill Monk, managing director of All Health Matters Ltd, has said that a sick note might not be the best way forward for employees affected by depression.
She says that employers are increasingly finding that helping their staff through difficult times with appropriate help and support in the workplace is the most effective way forward.
Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show that around a quarter of the UK population will experience some form of mental health issue each year.
According to the Confederation of British Industry, absence from work, including absence related to depression and mental health, costs the United Kingdom economy £14bn a year, and figures released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development show the overall average cost of ill-health, per employee per year in 2014, was £609. Within that, the private sector average was £520, 43% less than the public sector average of £914. Cost of absence includes paying the salary of the absent employee, overtime paid to other employees, additional recruitment and training overheads and loss of output.
By providing a healthy working environment, promoting work-life balance, and offering rehabilitation and counselling services to aid a return to work, people managers can more effectively support staff in difficult times. The business will benefit from reduced sickness absence and avoid those costs associated with long term mental health issues such as stress and depression.
Gill Monk, Managing Director at All Health Matters, said “My experience in the field of occupational health, leads me to believe many modern-day employers are compassionate and supportive of employees with mental health problems and will fund services to help.
“While pressures of work may be a factor for some, influences away from the workplace such as bereavement, financial worries or relationship issues can affect someone’s ability to function at work for a period of time.
“Employers may feel helpless because the cause of an employee’s mental health problems are sometimes not work-related, however, many now provide support through psychology, therapy and counselling services, and the level of activity in this area is increasing.
“I believe more and more employers recognize they have a part to play, and are investing in getting the help their employees need, including training staff in recognising and dealing with potential stressors in themselves and in their teams.”
Since 2004, 1,295 employers have signed up to the Mindful Employer Charter including large organisations such as the Nationwide Building Society, Morrisons, Eon and AXA PPP. Between them, Charter organisations employ over 1.3 million people and more employers are signing up each day. The Mayor of London’s Healthy Workplace Charter has successfully encouraged employers to adopt a holistic approach to employing people.
Gill Monk continues: “One other important lesson I have taken over the years is that time off from work is not necessarily the best way to treat depression, especially if the depression is a result of personal issues. Employers are finding that helping their staff through difficult times with the appropriate support in the workplace can be the most beneficial way to help both their employee and their business.
“Mental Health Week [11th-17th May 2015] reminds us that we all have a role in creating a healthier society, not only for the benefit of individuals and their families, but for companies and the wider economy.
“The costs of absence through ill-health are huge, personally and financially, and I believe that employers can, by helping to ensure their staff are healthy, play their part in promoting debate about this vital issue.
“Whether by reducing the cost of healthcare insurance schemes, maintaining productivity levels, or simply reducing the cost of sick pay, recruitment, training and overtime, the investment in the health of employees can pay huge dividends for forward-thinking companies and business owners.”
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