The true cost of mental health problems has been revealed today by an independent report commissioned by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
The Thriving at Work report found that mental health problems cost the UK economy up to £99bn every year and lead to the loss of around 300,000 jobs.
The authors of the report – Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, and Dennis Stevenson who is the former chair of HBOS – said: ‘Our work has revealed that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work that is much larger than we had thought.
‘Not only is there a big human cost of poor mental health at work, there are also knock on impacts for society, the economy and Government.’
The report estimates that of the £99bn lost each year, between £33bn and £42bn is borne by employers. Half of this cost is due to ‘presenteeism’, which is when individuals are less productive due to poor mental health, with the remaining amount coming from sickness and staff turnover. The government loses around £24-27bn annually due to mental health issues through the cost of benefits, the NHS and falls in taxation.
The authors argue that due to the ‘national focus on productivity’, the ‘inescapable conclusion’ is that it is in the interests of business and government alike to invest in improving mental health.
This, they say, is a no-brainer. The accountancy firm Deloitte conducted an analysis of firms that invested in mental health services and found that where investments had been made, there were ‘consistently positive returns on investment’. They put these returns anywhere in the region of £1.50 and £9 for every £1 spent. That’s increases of between 50% to 900%.
‘What we feel is really important is that organisations take responsibility for the mental health of their staff,’ added Farmer.
The report discovered that approximately 300,000 people a year lose their jobs because of long-term mental health problems – that’s the ‘equivalent of the whole population of Newcastle or Belfast.’
There are currently 1.5 million people in the UK with a long-term mental health condition who would benefit significantly from better access to mental health services. The report, with its emphasis on business as well as social costs, has highlighted the dual benefits to both society and the economy of expanding such access.