Do People With Mental Illness Need More Support at Work?

Mental illness

Just 5.7 per cent of people in England who suffer from a severe mental illness are in employment, according to statistics. However, it has been proven time and again that work is conducive to good mental health, with aspects such as company and a feeling of purposefulness essential for wellbeing.

However, in some areas in the UK, less than one per cent of people who are currently in contact with secondary mental health services is working, with the national average across England a poor 5.7 per cent.

Severe mental health issues may sound like a small number of people, so not worth your worry as a company, but consider the fact that one in every 100 people across the nation will be diagnosed with Schizophrenia. This is not a problem you are extremely unlikely to face as an employer.

Rethink is one charity currently looking at tackling stigma, matching patients with jobs they can do, and persuading employers to look at people with mental illness.

Mental health and employment

Across the board, the consensus is that more needs to be done to help people with mental health problems stay in work. Recent surveys show that 75 per cent of people with mental health issues got no treatment at all, yet around 70 million working days were lost due to mental illness. This cost the economy somewhere in the region of £70 to £100 billion. The question has to be asked; couldn’t we be doing more to support these people, who are in fact vital members of the workforce?

Sixty to seventy per cent of those suffering from common mental illnesses are in work – but lack of effective treatment can increase the level of sickness absence and reduce productivity levels. Some of the issue still lies in the stigma of mental illness. According to a Friends Life Survey last year, nearly half of employees had experienced mental health issues but chose not to tell their employer for fear of how it would impact their career prospects.

The statistics show that addressing employee mental health and the stigma associated with this should be something businesses are thinking about. By paying greater attention to the mental wellbeing of their workforce, employers can unleash the benefits of a healthier, happy, more productive workforce.

If you’re looking at ways to improve the overall mental health of your workforce, occupational health management is the logical first step. Speak to the team at OHBM to find out how we can help your organisation address mental health issues.

Musculoskeletal Disorders Leading Cause Of Sickness Absence and Productivity Loss


Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the primary cause of sickness absence and productivity loss for businesses. According to a new industry report, employers need to be able to meet the needs of employees with MSDs, allowing them to continue working and prevent their condition getting worse, in addition to boosting engagement and productivity.

A musculoskeletal disorder may affect bones, joints or connective tissue – the most common of these conditions is arthritis. However, it is a common misnomer that this condition, and those like it, affect mainly elderly people. In fact, a study in 2011 showed that 37 per cent of those claiming Employment and Support Allowance reported an MSD as their primary health condition.

In 2012, the Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders report found over half of employed respondents reported a loss of earnings due to the condition. Three quarters of retired respondents said their condition had influenced their decision to retire, with the majority leaving the job market before the age of 55.

This wealth of research suggests that MSDs are of massive impact the workforce, with many sufferers citing lost earnings, a reduction in productivity at work and early retirement as consequences of this condition.

New MSD research

A new report published in autum 2014, entitled Self-management of chronic musculo-skeletal disorders and employment, explores the self management of MSD conditions. It found that employers often don’t go to the necessary lengths to ensure those suffering from an MSD can access the benefits of work. Social, economic and psychological benefits could enhance the health and wellbeing of staff and make sufferers more productive.

The report, by Kate Summers, Zofia Bajorek, Stephen Bevan, states: “Self-management can empower individuals with a better understanding of, and control over, their symptoms and provide them with the tools to ensure their condition is understood and accommodated by others.”

The study suggests that line managers need to be more aware of MSDs to ensure sufferers feel valued, and are well-integrated. Many MSD sufferers don’t seek support for their condition at work, for fear of being judged unable to properly do their jobs.

However, according to the new report, when line managers work with staff to develop mutually beneficial solutions those with MSD will see improved levels of wellbeing. In turn, this enables employers to benefit from improvements in engagement and enhanced levels of productivity.

If you’d like to talk about the effects of MSDs on your workforce’s productivity, speak to the team at OHBM today.