“Mental ill health covers a wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to the most bleak, suicidal depression or complete loss of touch with everyday reality.”
This week, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, talked about her party’s commitment to improving Mental Health services across the UK, and I believe that employers need to make a similar commitment; together we can break the stigma that is still attached to this common condition. The statistics around the impact of Mental Health conditions on society are alarming; whilst exact estimates vary, it is highly likely that:
- 1 in 4 people will experience some form of Mental Health condition in any year (Goldberg 1991);
- At any given time, 1 in 6 working age adults have symptoms associated with Mental ill Health (e.g. sleep problems, fatigue, worries, etc.) which do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis; and
- A further 1 in 6 working age adults experience diagnosable Mental Ill Health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, at any given time.
The impact of Mental ill Health on the economy is also concerning, with an approximately £30.3 billion lost economic output and £21.3 billion spent on Health and Social Care costs. In 2009/ 2010 the total cost of Mental Ill Health in England was £105.2 billion pounds (Centre for Mental Health, The economic and social costs of mental health problems in 2009/2010). There are many factors that influence Mental Health and Well-being such as: stigma and discrimination, physical illness, physical disability, poverty, deprivation and other socio-economic inequalities and there are many myths and misconceptions around people with Mental Health conditions that we need to dispel. For example:
- You are as likely to be struck by lightning as to be killed by a stranger who is mentally ill (odds of 1 in 10 million);
- People with severe Mental illness are more likely to be the victims than perpetrators of violent crime;
- People with Mental illness are far more likely to harm themselves than harm others.
It is no surprise that there is cross-political party interest in improving support for people with mental ill Health conditions, but effective change can only happen if employers play their part in changing attitudes, perceptions and behaviours around Mental ill Health in the workplace. On World Mental Health Day, I am therefore delighted, that AdviserPlus has launched a programme as part of our Time to Change pledge and our status as a Disability Confident Leader organisation that will help to combat a culture of silence around this important agenda. The programme is being delivered through a series of interactive events, at which employees will be encouraged to safely disclose and talk openly about their Mental Health. The aim and purpose of this initiative is to develop ‘disability confidence’; creating an inclusive, healthy cultural environment that will help employees to reach their full potential. Many employers remain unaware of the Government’s Access to Work programme that helps to fund the costs of supporting disabled employees in the work place. The Access to Work scheme provides a Mental Health Support Service that can be utilised to help retain employees experiencing episodes of Mental ill Health. This service:
- Offers advice and guidance to help employers understand mental ill health and how they can support employees, and
- Offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan.
For more information about the Access to Work, Mental Health Support Service, please contact:
Telephone: 0345 268 8489
Textphone: 0345 608 8753
Finally, it can be difficult to talk about your Mental Health difficulties. If you need to speak to someone confidentially, you can do this by texting MIND on 86463.
It really is Time for Change!