Impact of mental health in the workplace

Saturday, 10th October 2020 is World Mental Health world mental health day 2020Day.  To mark this day we look at what impact poor employee mental health can have on a business and what business owners can do to support their teams.

Bluntly speaking, the impact of poor mental health in the workplace can cost your business cold, hard cash. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation:

  • Nearly 1 in 7 people experience problems with mental health in the workplace
  • Almost 13% of all sick days can be attributed to mental health conditions
  • Women are twice as likely to have a common mental health problem
  • UK businesses lose £8 billion per year due to mental health issues

Approximately 264 million people suffer from depression and anxiety. Moreover, mental health issues across the world are widely recognised as the leading cause of premature death and disability. This means that it has an effect not only on our society but also on our economy. To put it another way, poor mental health increases the number of sick days people take, increases staff turnover as people have to leave, and can result in employees not being able to complete their role effectively, or at all.

What can affect a person’s mental health at work?

There are many different causes of poor mental health and many theses and doctorates have been written on the origins and potential solutions. There is no simple solution. Each one of us is different and each one of us faces daily mental battles, both at home and at work. At work, problems can result from bullying and psychological harassment, or inadequate support, miscommunication, and management practices. Inflexible working hours, unsuitability of tasks, unclear company objectives, low participation in decision making, and insufficient health and safety policies can also trigger problems.

Deadlines, workloads, job security, co-worker personalities, and management styles are all possible stressors that can cause a negative environment and which may lead to or exacerbate issues within an employee who is already suffering with poor mental health.  However, by creating the right environment and recognising issues as soon as they arise, it is possible to improve mental health in the workplace.

Why is supporting mental health at work important

Because helping your employees both physically and mentally will mean they are more ready, willing and most importantly able to do their job.  Which can only be good for your long-term business goals. That might sound a bit mercenary but as we know money talks. If you are losing money because of cultural issues in your workplace that are causing your employees stress and anxiety, then your business is less productive and therefore less profitable.

Employers should improve their awareness and understanding of how mental health problems can arise. It can often feel that issues happen suddenly, when in fact they have been building up over time or maybe triggered by events in a person's life outside work.

In practical terms supporting your employees’ mental health can lead to:

  • Improved productivity – they can focus on the job in hand
  • Reduced absence – happy, well employees will be working, not at taking time off sick
  • Reduced presenteeism – being seen in the office despite being unwell mentally or physically is not productive and can be distracting for all members of the team
  • Reduced recruitment costs – employees stay in role longer if they feel recognised and supported.
Is it expensive?

It is an investment. 

Research shows that for every £1 spent on scaling up treatments for common mental health issues, there is a £4 return in improved productivity and health. If your organisation takes mental health in the workplace seriously, there are enormous benefits for employers and employees alike.

How can employers help?

Employers can help in various ways.

First and foremost, the workplace should be inclusive. Make it a safe space where employees feel listened to, heard, and understood. They need to know they can raise anything without being discriminated against or reacted to in a negative manner.  Trust is imperative.

Encouraging all employees to talk openly about mental health in the workplace. This will help break down the stigma associated with it and help ensure problems are less likely to build up.

You can break down many of the barriers by treating equally the importance of mental and physical health. Companies can provide mental health awareness training, seminars, web-based materials, and workshops, alongside appointing mental health champions and introducing programs that support career development.

Ensure your teams are trained to recognise signs of mental ill-health.  Symptoms can manifest themselves physically as well as emotionally. Once trained, team managers can conduct regular one-to-ones to allow employees to talk about any problems they are experiencing.


Parental Choice work with business to help support their employees’ wellbeing.  Our wellbeing programmes are suited to businesses of all sizes. The programmes include advice and information, virtual presentations, podcasts and video content.

To find out how we can help your business get in touch with the team on 020 8979 6453 or email info@parentalchoice.co.uk.

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