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Thriving At Work - A Report Into Workplace Mental Health

27 October 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

The Stevenson-Farmer independent review into workplace mental health has been published and supported by research by Deloitte.

The independent review was commissioned by the Prime Minister in January and led by Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer. It is entitled Thriving at Work.

The review looks at how employers can support all employees, including those with poor mental health or wellbeing, to remain in and thrive at work.


300,000 lose their jobs

Statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions reveal that 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year.

Analysis by Deloitte, commissioned by the reviewers, also reveals a demonstrable cost to employers. It quantifies for the first time how investing in supporting mental health at work is good for business and productivity.

Poor mental health costs the UK economy between £74 billion and £99 billion a year. Deloitte’s analysis shows that the cost to employers is between £33 billion and £42 billion of this number. Evaluations of workplace interventions show a return to business of between £1.50 and £9.00 for every £1 invested.

Drawing on the accounts of over 200 employers of people with mental health problems and leading experts in mental health and work, Thriving at Work sets out core principles and standards that all employers should commit to. It highlights examples of some employers who are taking positive and innovative steps to support the mental health of their employees.

The reviewers are calling on all employers, regardless of size or industry, to adopt six ‘mental health core standards’ that lay the basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health. These cover mental health at work plans, mental health awareness for employees, line management responsibilities and routine monitoring of staff mental health and wellbeing. Large employers and the public sector are expected to go even further, demonstrating best practice through external reporting and designated leadership responsibility.

To download the report, Click Here

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Employment

A supporting study for the Independent Review - Click here


Deloitte were asked to support this review by exploring the following questions:

  1. What is the cost of poor mental health to employers?

  2. What is the return on investment (ROI) to employers from mental health interventions in the workplace?

  3. What can we learn from international examples in terms of good practice?

Deloitte has calculated the cost of poor mental health in the workplace to be a significant number at £33bn-£42bn; the mid-point of which is equivalent to almost 2% of UK GDP (2016). This cost is borne by businesses of all sizes and across all industries, with analysis showing the costs per employee ranging from £497 – £2564, depending on the industry and sector.

However, the costs are disproportionately born in the public sector, particularly in healthcare. Deloitte research has also found that the return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive, with an average ROI of 4:1.


British Safety Council

The British Safety Council has responded to the recommendations of the Stevenson-Farmer review. Louise Ward, Communications and Policy Director at the BSC, said:“Great progress has been made on addressing safety issues and reducing accidents and injuries in the workplace but there is still significant work to be done on wellbeing and health, particularly mental health.

“Mental health is very much the issue of our time and there is still much to be done in dispelling the stigma that surrounds the subject and facilitating access to help and support. Defining and contextualising mental wellbeing, as distinct from mental ill health and recognition of the multitude of contributory factors is particularly helpful, as it establishes the scope for the recommendations and confirms that good work is a positive contributor to mental wellbeing.

“We believe that employers will welcome the proposed core standards and supporting guidance, as this will help to establish a benchmark for good practice. However, we are concerned about the ability of businesses, particularly SMEs, to resource the interventions required to achieve this benchmark. We also welcome suggestions that the Government should consider financial incentives to support this work.

“The recommendations set out in the report will place significant demands on the already stretched NHS and public sector. We are concerned that additional resource will be required to meet these demands, and care will be required to mitigate the impact that workload increases could have on the mental wellbeing of staff employed in these areas.

“We recognise the complexity of regulatory activity in the field of mental wellbeing, and welcome the report’s call for improved clarity in this area. Regulatory resources are already stretched, particularly at the local authority level. Therefore, it will be necessary for the Government to ensure that resources and training are available for regulators if they are to take on additional accountabilities.


Mental health training

Stevenson-Farmer review recommends that professional bodies with responsibility for training or accrediting professional qualifications should include workplace mental health in their training programmes and assessments. In January 2017, the British Safety Council helped to launch the Mates in Mind programme, which provides information, support and training on mental health for the construction industry.

The British Safety Council has recently unveiled its mental health training portfolio to help businesses and their employees start conversations about mental health issues and build a positive mental health culture.


Mates in Mind welcomes Stevenson-Farmer independent review and calls for further government engagement

The charity Mates in Mind welcomed the publication and restated its objective to improve the mental wellbeing of workers in the UK construction industry.

The Review found that in many workplaces, mental health remains a taboo subject and that consequently opportunities are being missed to provide employees who are struggling, with the help and support that they need. Since its launch in January 2017, Mates in Mind has been working with the UK construction industry to make progress on the issues the report identifies by raising awareness, addressing the stigma of poor mental health and improving positive mental wellbeing.

Specifically, it uses a framework consisting of four key elements, which together provide a joined-up approach that can be tailored to a company’s specific needs.


These are:

Guidance and support: offering guidance on specific employee issues to creating stress management policies through to connecting the workforce to appropriate support at the right time – Mates in Mind supports companies create and implement a mental health at work plan.

Awareness and education: helping to develop mental health awareness throughout the industry – from encouraging open conversation throughout the workforce to helping leaders and managers understand their roles in creating mentally healthy work environments.

Communication: helping to ensure the organisation’s commitment to positive mental health & wellbeing remains visible and relevant. From targeted communication materials to supporting organisations in monitoring employee mental health & wellbeing.

Research and development: developing industry leading research to understand the nature and impact of mental health, and to ensure development of effective, robust and sustainable solutions.

Joscelyne Shaw, Executive Director of Mates in Mind, said: “The interaction between work and mental health is complex and sensitive and is a challenge to employers. What the evidence shows is that stigma and associated discrimination remain significant barriers to addressing the issue. We are helping construction companies to take steps to address both the human cost to construction workers and the financial cost to their businesses. We’re very fortunate that the construction industry has taken a stand to ensure mental health is included within the overall health agenda.”


ISS creates Mental Health campaign in support of World Mental Health Day to drive awareness and support employees in the workplace

On World Mental Health Day, Tuesday 10th October, ISS UK & Ireland initiated an employee wellbeing campaign to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace and to promote supporting each other as colleagues and friends.

A staggering 1 in 4 of us are likely to experience mental health problems in any year. It is unfortunately so often the case that many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless by other people’s reactions, and yet any one of us, or our families, can be impacted by mental health issues at any time.

In launching the Mental Health campaign and to show support for World Mental Health Day, ISS has created a weekly schedule of activities for the rest of the month of October, with each day of the week having a specific hashtag and with ideas, tips and support being communicated and shared amongst all employees.






ISS is encouraging employees to share photos of something that is important to them, such as a special place, a hobby or a pet, to show what makes them happy. 

ISS began to engage with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) nearly two years ago, with speeches at conferences and a pilot two day course run in February 2016. Since then, we have trained several hundred people in either the full MHFA Course or a half day Stress Management course. The course is eye-opening and provides a firm base for being a first responder, identifying signs of mental health problems, signposting people to someone who can help and how to look after your own mental health.

Stephanie Hamilton, ISS Director of People and Culture UK and Ireland, commented: “At ISS, we believe that healthy people create a healthy business and we hope that this campaign will help to lift the stigma attached to mental health. Simply being able to understand, talk about and normalise these conditions is a huge step forward. I hope that World Mental Health Day and the activities that we have planned will encourage all of our employees to get involved - being open about mental health and ready to listen can really make a positive difference to someone’s life.”

Picture: The week ending October 26 saw the Stevenson-Farmer review into workplace mental health released

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 27 October 2017


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