At any one time one in six workers are believed to be struggling with a psychological difficulty such as depression, anxiety or stress. Nearly half of all long-term sickness is caused by mental health problems and ninety-one million workdays are believed to be lost to mental health problems each year.
Absenteeism refers to people who are off work due to ill health. The cost of absenteeism to UK business is estimated to be £8.4 billion pounds per annum.
Presenteeism refers to employees turning up for work when they are not well enough or working additional hours to make up for a sense of not keeping up with workloads. The cost of presenteeism to UK business as a result of mental health difficulties is estimated to be £15.1 billion per annum.
Addressing mental health in the workplace is good for business. Managers and businesses need to become better educated about the importance of health psychological well-being and help toward tackling stigma in the workplace. Promoting opportunities to address mental health in the work place would help employees to be more productive whilst promoting a sense of purpose.
Considerable stigma still exists around mental health and disclosing to employers when work is impacting on our psychological well being presents unique challenges.
Often employees don’t know how to speak with their employers because they fear mental health problems may be seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of resilience in coping.
Employers themselves may not know how to respond to people when they are struggling or they may not even know people are experiencing difficulties. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and more difficulties may emerge as a result. It is important that employers and employees challenge stigma in the workplace and develop awareness of mental health in the workplace.
Being employed is generally good for psychological wellbeing. It can give people a sense of identity, provides activity and structure, gives a sense of personal achievement, offers monetary rewards, and provides social contacts and support.
Being unemployed is generally problematic for people’s psychological wellbeing because some of the protective factors work provides are absent. Unemployment can increase the risk of mental health problems and it is a known factor associated with an increased risk of suicide. Many people who are unemployed people often have a desire to work. For people without work, re-employment often leads to improvement in psychological well-being.
For some men masculine values and norms can complicate difficulties associated with unemployment, redundancy and retirement. There are expectations that men should be providers for their families and others. Many men carry financial responsibility for their families and the loss of employment can be particularly challenging when it leads to difficulties managing financial commitments. Combined with men’s difficulties seeking help and their general lack of support, many men try to work things out themselves.