Five reasons why mental health in the workplace matters

Paul Farmer, CBE – CEO of Mind discusses five reasons why the mental health of employees is such an important consideration in the workplace.

  • It’s the right thing to do

Whether or not an employee has a mental health problem, an employer has a duty of care to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing under health and safety legislation. Employers have a duty to assess the risks arising from hazards at work, including work-related mental health problems.

If an employee is considered to have a disability, the Equality Act 2010 says that they have a right not to be discriminated against in employment. This means that employers must not treat individuals with a mental health problem less favourably than other people.

  • It boosts productivity

Smart employers know that organisations are only as strong as their people – they depend on having a healthy and productive workforce. Good mental health underpins this. By positively managing and supporting employees’ mental wellbeing, employers can ensure that staff perform to their potential – and this allows the business to achieve peak performance. Research shows that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 per cent. By supporting staff wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced morale, loyalty, commitment, innovation, productivity and profitability.

  • It makes good business sense

The twin goals of increasing employee engagement and creating a mentally healthy workplace are interdependent. Positively managing mental health underpins good employee engagement and benefits everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line. Engagement is about recognising that employees, if they are to perform at their best, must be respected, involved, heard, well-led and valued. Making changes that have a positive impact on employees’ experiences at work are integral. Approaches such as flexible working, building resilience and staff development contribute to good engagement.

  • The cost of not acting can be significant

The Thriving at Work review stated that poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn every year. £42bn of this is as a direct cost to employers lost through sickness absence, presenteeism and staff turnover. We know that there’s a huge human cost related to mental health, but figures from the review show the business case for addressing mental health in the workplace, with proactive employers also reaping the rewards of a more motivated, healthy workforce.

  • It values and promotes a diverse workforce

The Thriving at Work review found that people with long-term mental health problems were leaving jobs at twice the rate of colleagues who don’t have mental health problems. Whether this was because they felt unsupported by their employer or unable to access suitable treatment, the human and economic cost cannot be ignored. Promoting good mental health at work is also a key part of being a responsible employer that values the contribution of their employees. Forward-thinking employers recognise the benefits of recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce, including people who might be experiencing a mental health problem.

At Mind our aim is to support a million people to stay well and have good mental health at work by 2021. Through our work with employers, we’re building a movement for change in mental health at work. We have a Workplace Wellbeing team who provides expert guidance and support for employers who want to support their staff’s mental health you can get contact them via our website or by emailing [email protected]

Paul Farmer, CBE, CEO of Mind

Paul has been CEO of Mind, the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales, since May 2006. He is Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the leading voice of the UK’s charity and social enterprise sector, and a trustee at Lloyds Bank Foundation, which invests in charities supporting people to break out of disadvantage at critical points in their lives.

Paul was Chair of the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce which brought together health and care leaders and experts to create the current mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS in England. He co-authored ‘Thriving at Work’ for Government, setting out how to transform mental health in workplaces. Paul has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East London; an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford and the Royal College of Psychiatrists; and awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2016.

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 @The_IoD or use the hashtag #IoDMH

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Supporting good mental health and wellbeing

Browse valuable mental-health resources from the IoD.
Internet Explorer
Your web browser is out of date and is not supported by the IoD website. It is important to update your browser for increased security and a better web experience.