Mental health issues cost UK £70bn a year

Mental health issues cost the UK around £70 billion every year, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Its report, Mental health and work: United Kingdom, found that this figure amounts to a 53% loss in employment and productivity.

The report recommends that the government’s new Health at Work Service, which will be introduced in 2014, is implemented quickly and universally, with a strong focus on mental health and those still in work, and with much stronger involvement from employers.

The OECD report also recommends:

  • Increasing resources and refining financial incentives for employment service providers to ensure better employment outcomes for employees with mental health problems.
  • Building on recently improved integration of health and employment services to ensure that integrated health and employment interventions for those with mental health issues are widely available.
  • Further expanding access to psychological therapies for those with a common mental disorder.
  • Increasing the attention to mental health and its impact on employability and work capacity in all parts of the welfare system.

Shruti Singh, directorate for employment, labour and social affairs at the OECD, and author of the report, said: “The UK is one of the most advanced countries in terms of awareness [of mental health issues].

“With this positive, we should be seeing better outcomes than we are seeing. There are many good policies and initiatives, but these need to be translated into actions.”

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Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation, which hosted the launch of the report, added: “Some large employers do amazing work around mental health in the workplace, but too few employers do this well.

“The system needs to encourage employers to support employees with mental health issues.”