Absence due to mental ill-health is on the rise

The numbers

In a survey undertaken by the British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva, 30% of businesses surveyed by said they had seen an increase in the number of employees affected by mental health issues.

To manage and improve this statistic, put simply, more needs to be done to increase the disclosure of mental health issues and to look at support mechanisms for employees.

In May a fifth of organisations said that mental illness was now the main cause of long term absence, according to the CIPD.

By talking about it, we can stop small issues escalating into long term absence.  By supporting employees with mental ill health, a return to work can often take place sooner.  This also  helps to reduce the effects of additional workload on colleagues which also causes its own issues.

Solutions – Dealing with mental ill-health

Being able to open up about depression has recently been linked to increased productivity at work. A London School of Economics study identified that employees hiding their condition take more days off work than their openly unwell counterparts.

Some actions to assist employees with mental ill health can include:-

  • Reviewing individual workloads
  • Considering flexible working options either on a temporary or permanent basis
  • Referring for counselling funded by the organisation
  • Train managers to better support individuals
  • Using Occupational Health Services to risk assess, support and assist employees to remain in work

Dealing with mental ill health is also needed to reduce the potential for successful Employment Tribunal claims and reputational harm.  This is the cold hard cash part of the equation.  The responsibility on employers is therefore not just moral, but is significantly more substantive.

Whilst there is a cost of increased workplace support, inaction can carry a higher cost with statistics citing that mental ill health related absences cost £26 billion last year.  That is coupled with the human cost for those suffering and those around them.

For support

For assistance in establishing a supportive and credible HR process to assist employees to return to and remain in work, please just give us a call.


01228 541279