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IoD holds first-ever SME Directors’ Mental Health Forum

01 Mar 2017
Animated graphic of worker silhouettes of business connectivity

The event forms part of the IoD’s aim to promote greater awareness of mental health at work

Businesses in the UK lost an estimated 127 million hours of work in 2015 due to mental health-related absence, according to government figures – the equivalent of around 75,000 workers taking the entire year off.

The scale of the problem and its impact on British business were revealed last week at the IoD’s inaugural SME Directors’ Mental Health Forum at 116 Pall Mall, which also looked at ways businesses should handle employees’ sensitive health issues such as depression and anxiety. Those in attendance admitted to being largely unaware of the size of the issue.

Statistics provided by Mind, the OECD and ONS revealed that the number of days taken off work due to mental health problems has increased 25 per cent year on year, and stress, depression and anxiety taken together rank as the largest reason for absence in the workplace. Among men aged 20-49, suicide is the biggest killer in England. Failure to cope adequately with mental health issues costs the UK around 4.5 per cent of GDP.

Speaking at the event hosted by the IoD and Mental Health First Aid England, BBC journalist Matthew Shaw discussed his struggle to come to terms with depression and looked at the ways his employer provided effective support for those suffering from mental ill health, outlining what more could be done in the workplace for those coming to terms with this increasingly common condition.

SMEs account for some 99 per cent of firms in the UK, and total employment in SMEs in 2015 was 15.6m, accounting for some 99 per cent of all private sector jobs across the economy.

While the consequences of poor mental health in the workplace can lead to poor quality of work, poor decision-making and even conflict between colleagues, it is not always feasible for smaller businesses to employ a psychologist on their HR team, if they even have one, to offer support to workers suffering from mental ill health.

Mental health in the workplace

The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.

Visit our mental health in the workplace hub

Get involved in the conversation  or use the hashtag

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