POSTED: November 15 2019
The millions of working days lost to poor mental health

The millions of working days lost to poor mental health

Seventeen and a half million working days lost to poor mental health.

Recently published ONS figures has shown that 17.5 million working days each year are lost due to mental health related sickness, highlighting the need for middle and senior managers to find solutions to this growing problem affecting productivity in the workplace.

The publication of figures shadowed a survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) of 940 managers across the UK that showed that over half (51%) of managers have had a member of staff disclose a mental health problem.

CMI research identified that the majority of managers are now having to manage staff with mental health problems, but only half have been trained to deal with mental health in the workplace.

Managers are having to manage a wide range of mental health problems. This includes more common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and stress – as well as less common problems such as eating disorders, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Line managers play a pivotal role in supporting employee health and wellbeing, and should be a key source of advice and support for those suffering with mental health problems at work. However, CMI’s survey found that around half of all managers (49%) had never received any training on managing mental health in the workplace.

The lack of training was most apparent with older, senior managers. 51% of senior managers had never received training on managing mental health in the workplace, compared to 44% of junior managers. And 52% of older managers (over 50) had never received training, compared to 42% of younger managers (18-29).

CMI CEO, Ann Francke, said: “Line managers play a critical role in supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing; they may be the first port of call for someone who is struggling, or they may be best placed to notice when a colleague’s demeanor changes. But they need to be equipped and empowered to do so.

“CMI research has shown that in too many cases managers are not receiving the training they need to be effective in supporting their teams. I call on all managers to consider how they can best show that they are available to talk to any members of staff who may need it”.

Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive of MHFA England commented: “As the CMI’s survey data highlight, giving managers the tools to support themselves and their teams is crucial. From our work with over 20,000 employers, we have seen the difference that evidence-based mental health training makes – empowering people to talk openly about mental health and seek help when needed.”

“Research consistently shows that only a minority of people disclose mental illness as a reason for sickness absence. This tells us that the ONS’s Labour Force Survey is likely capturing the tip of an iceberg at 17.5 million working days lost. And it is why going above and beyond to act on workplace mental health and wellbeing is so important.”


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