A new study has found that more than half of all work-related ill health issues reported by occupational health physicians nowadays are due to mental health disorders. Furthermore, mental health disorders in the workplace now surpass musculoskeletal problems. Employers should sit up and take note of this shift
Employers are now being urged to invest more in workplace health and directly combat mental health issues head on by the Society of Occupational Medicine. It cited that mental health issues cost UK employers approximately £26 billion per year. That’s a staggering £1,035 per employee.
Perhaps more worrying is that a ‘culture of silence’ seems to exist in the UK when it comes to mental health issues in the workplace, according to a recent piece on Personnel Today. However, this apparent ‘culture of silence’ doesn’t just exist at an employee level, with many individuals reluctant to talk about any mental health issues they may be facing, but also at an organisational level.
While many of Britain’s biggest companies are now including in their annual reports details of employee wellbeing and health activities, very few have looked to extend this to include mental health issues too. A survey of employees conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) discovered that just over 40% of respondents said their employer did not promote health and wellbeing.
Mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed at the very top of an organisation. Specific training should be given to line managers so that they fully understand the potential impact of mental illness and how to combat it should early symptoms appear. However organisations can only do so much and emphasis also needs to be placed on the workforce to openly talk about mental health disorders to help break down the barriers that have made it a subject that has historically been taboo.
The Society of Occupational Medicine’s President, Dr Alasdair Emslie, said: “Occupational health specialists have the ability to improve the health of thousands of workers by bringing in policies and wellbeing programmes – a GP can affect a tiny proportion of this number by seeing them one to one for a few minutes each year”.
At Premier Choice we have built up nearly 10 years of MI on Income Protection claims. Over this period we have witnessed a shift from musculoskeletal claims to mental health. What is clear is that traditional methods of managing absence for many employers need a radical rethink. At Premier Choice we have a number of cost effective solutions to help manage mental health problems.
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