Added value: mental health as a workplace asset

Our new 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.

The report, which includes research by the Mental Health Foundation, Oxford Economics and Unum, has five key findings.

Download the executive summary

Key findings

  1. People living with mental health problems contributed an estimated £226 billion gross value added (12.1%) to UK GDP. This is 12.1% of GDP overall, and as high as nine times the estimated cost to economic output arising from mental health problems at work.
  2. Work is a key factor in supporting and protecting mental health. The workplace mental health and wellbeing survey identified that 86% of all respondents believed that their job and being at work was important to protecting and maintaining their mental health.
  3. Distress is an issue that affects a major proportion of the workforce, whether people have experienced a mental health problem or not. Most survey respondents who had experienced a mental health problem, and over a third of respondents who had not, reported that distress had left them less productive than they would like.
  4. Disclosure can be a positive experience, but discrimination and self-stigma remain big issues. A majority of respondents to the workplace mental health and wellbeing survey who disclosed a mental health problem to an employer described it as an overall positive experience, and were more aware of the support available to them than those who had not. However, the negative experience of a significant minority in part legitimises the fears of those who have chosen not to disclose.
  5. Many employers lack systems to recognise and address mental health at work. The workplace mental health and wellbeing survey suggests that many employers lack systems to recognise and address mental health at work, especially in relation to absence management and making adjustments.

Key recommendations

  • Value mental health and wellbeing as core business assets.
  • Support the development of compassionate and effective line management relationships.
  • Address discrimination and support disclosure.
  • Value the diversity and transferable skills that the lived experience of mental health problems brings.