Business leaders say the number of staff taking time off for mental ill-health is on the increase, according to new research.
Just under 30 per cent of businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Aviva said they had seen an increase in the number of employees affected by mental health issues in the last three years, prompting experts to suggest more needs to be done to increase both disclosure of mental health issues and support mechanisms for employees.
Richard Isham, partner at Wedlake Bell LLP, said that while there was a moral case for supporting staff, doing so also made “business sense”. Taking substantive action to promote mental health in the workplace can directly affect the bottom line, he said.
While businesses must evaluate the cost of increased workplace support, Isham added, inaction carried a greater cost. “Mental ill health-related absences are estimated to cost at least £26 billion per year,” he said. “So the economic cost is huge, but so too is the human cost; for the sufferers and for those around them, both at work and at home. Tragically, the ultimate human cost is the loss of life through suicide.”