Added value: mental health as a workplace asset

With one in six of the UK workforce experiencing mental health problems in 2015, there is a growing awareness of the importance of good workplace mental health and wellbeing. This is not simply because it’s the ‘right thing to do’, but because recognising, valuing, improving and protecting mental wellbeing in the workplace makes good business sense.

The Mental Health Foundation, Oxford Economics and Unum undertook this research to shift the narrative on workplace mental health from discussion of the financial burden of mental health problems to one of the value of mental health as an asset: of individuals, of companies and of the economy.

Our report, produced with employee benefits specialists Unum, shows that the value added by people with mental health problems in the workforce is greater than the costs arising. Improving and protecting mental health secures that value and should help reduce cost.

Women having a meeting at work

The research combines three approaches:

  • Economic modelling by Oxford Economics – This used publicly available data to quantify for the first time the value added to the economy through the employment of people with mental health problems. Additionally, Labour Force Survey data was used to present an analysis of the composition of the labour force with mental health problems.
  • Qualitative research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation – This includes 25 in-depth qualitative interviews with people with mental health problems, line managers and HR directors to provide detailed accounts of personal experience and to help frame the workplace mental health and wellbeing survey.
  • A workplace mental health and wellbeing survey commissioned from YouGov by Unum and Mental Health Foundation – This combines a sample of around 1,000 people who have self-defined as having mental health problems with a further sample of around 1,000 people who have line management responsibilities.
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