300,000 people lose their jobs every year due to poor mental health, the government commissioned ‘Thriving at Work’ report revealed highlighting the issue remains a taboo subject in many workplaces throughout the country.

One in six British workers struggles with mental health with 15% of people showing symptoms of a mental health condition, ultimately costing business £42 billion a year and a total of £99 billion pounds to the economy.

The independent review also discovered that people with mental health problems are losing their jobs at double the rate of people with physical health conditions.

Why are people losing their jobs?

Roughly half of people losing their jobs is due to reduced productivity as well as additional costs from sickness absence and staff turnover.

Another key issue which arose in the report is many employers do not understand the “crucial role they can play” in assisting those with such issues and “not knowing where to go for advice and Support.”

Furthermore, the study also unearthed only 20% of people thought their manager would be fully equipped to deal with this in the Workplace.

What is the current situation?

While as a society we are progressing in identifying and treating mental health issues, it remains somewhat of a taboo subject.

Theresa May's recently released report follows a survey ran by the charity Business in the Community which found that out of those who told their employers about what they were facing, 15% were subject to dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion.

58% said they wouldn't be comfortable telling their manager if they were dealing with a mental health issue due to the stigma attached and being judged, while others choose not to come forward as they fear that they will not be seen as capable of work.

Stress, in particular, is often overlooked in certain industries as it is simply seen to be part of the job.

High-pressure industries include working in the media or hospitality, for example. However, there is a fine line between what is expected of you to complete a job satisfactorily and what is expected of you leading to mental health issues.

What needs to be done?

The review which was authored by charity, Mind's CEO, Paul Farmer and the campaigner and former HBOS Bank Chair, Lord Dennis Stevenson called on all employers regardless of size or industry to adopt six "core standards" in the first instance:

  • Creating, implementing and communicating mental health at work plans
  • Developing awareness for employees, promoting effective people management through line management
  • Introducing routine monitoring of employee and wellbeing
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available
  • Provide employees with good working conditions to ensure they have a healthy work-life balance as well as opportunities for development.

There are a total of 40 recommendations within the report and larger organisations and the public sector have been encouraged to take further steps through external reporting and designated leadership responsibility.

The report also has suggestions for the government, including making Statutory Sick Pay more flexible and encouraging the NHS to make sure mental health support is "accessible, high quality and fits around work".

Theresa May said the findings showed that "we need to take action," and the government has subsequently announced that the NHS and Civil Service, two of the country's largest employers, will abide by the recommendations that apply to them in the report meaning over two million public sector workers will receive tailored support in the workplace.

Why do we only care now?

When first coming across this news, my initial thoughts were that this would be another one of those reports about shocking but soon forgotten mental health statistics that might make it to your Twitter feed for a few days at the most but then eventually become ignored leading to no changes.

I was wrong, this report has made a direct impact on policy-making and therefore societal change for the greater good.

However, thousands of first-hand accounts and testimonies about the lack of support and services within our communities have been cropping up in different forms, industries and areas over the last few years yet they have been ignored for the most part and led to little tangible change or reform. Apparently, if you tell people of financial loss, then you can scare the government and British public into taking action.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people across Britain have been turned a blind eye over the years, yet when it's about money that's when we all begin paying attention, particularly the government. So how many other things are we not acknowledging as real issues until we discover the financial disadvantage?