2020 Annual Report

4 min read

It pays to support mental health at work

  • Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45bn each year – but it’s a cost they can cut considerably by investing in the right support for their people.
  • This was a main finding of our analysis on mental health, which we produced in collaboration with mental health charity Mind.
  • It’s provided businesses, health advocates, policy makers, journalists and others with important insight in support of a clear message to UK employers - it pays to support mental health at work.

An estimated one in six people of working age experience a common mental health problem in any given week. This makes poor mental health one of the UK’s biggest social problems.

In new analysis published earlier this year ‘Mental health and employers: the case for refreshing investment’, we explored the relationship between mental health and work.

“Working with Mind we refreshed insight we first conducted in 2017 for the ‘Thriving at Work’ review on workplace mental health, which calculated that poor mental health costs UK employers £33-42 billion a year” said Elizabeth Hampson, Deloitte director and author of the 2017 and 2020 reports.

A complex picture of mental health

“Collaborating with Mind and using data from their Work Wellbeing Index added important perspectives to the research and allowed us to share more insight than in 2017.”

“It’s enabled us to show a complex picture in which, despite more help for mental health being provided by employers and a reduction in perceptions of associated stigma, costs to employers of poor mental health continue to rise.”

Poor mental health now costs UK employers up to £45bn each year – but this is a cost they can cut considerably by investing in mental health support for their people.

Exploring new causes of poor mental health at work

In January 2020, the BBC broadcast a day of programming on poor mental health at work.

Our analysis was used to quantify the size of the problem in coverage across TV, radio and online news.

“We were asked by the BBC to refresh this analysis provide data on this important issue” said Deloitte manager and co-author Anju Jacob.

“Our research highlighted important issues like the potential effects of a growing ‘always-on’ culture driven by technology, and the emergence of young people as the most vulnerable group in the workplace to poor mental health.”

“Sharing these findings as widely as possible is really important to us - because only by understanding the root causes can employers start to help.”

For every £1 spent, employers get £5 back

“Just as importantly” Elizabeth added “the research showed there were no downsides to employers’ investing in support for their people.”

“The return on investment analysis of employee mental health interventions that we conducted as part of the research showed that it pays to support mental health at work – for each £1 spent on mental health interventions, employers get £5 back.”

The analysis also showed that, when investing in help, employers can achieve a higher return on investment with early interventions, such as organisation-wide culture change and education, than more in-depth support that may be needed at a later stage when a person is struggling.

Based on a finding in the analysis that employees with financial concerns are more likely to report signs of poor mental health that affect performance at work, our consulting teams have begun work to increase financial literacy amongst our employees and sign-post support for individuals facing financial challenges.

By making this strong case for investment, we’re hoping that more businesses will implement changes.

Mental health at work – a viewpoint from Mind

“It’s worrying to hear so few UK employees feel their employer is consistently promoting their mental health” said Mind’s Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Emma Mamo.

“The pandemic has thrown up huge challenges and concerns for employers and staff, including things like job security, furlough, juggling working and parenting and the challenges of working remotely, to name a few.”

“That’s why it’s more important than ever that employers put in place well-promoted, easy to access wellbeing initiatives to reassure staff that their wellbeing remains a priority. Measures such as subsidised or free counselling, financial check-ups, 24-hour Employee Assistance programmes and online exercise classes can all make a difference.”

“In these uncertain times, employees will be looking to their employers to provide guidance. Many employers are having to make tough decisions and plan for lots of different outcomes.”

“As well as considering the safety of their staff, it’s also important employers invest in their mental health, especially given many employees are likely experiencing worsening problems like stress, anxiety and depression.”

“Mind can help businesses create mentally healthy workplaces, through our Workplace Wellbeing Index, bespoke training and free resources available from Mind and the Mental Health at Work website.”

One million futures made brighter

In 2016, we set out to help one million people get to where they want to be through access to education and employment

Mind is one of 70+ society partners we have worked alongside to achieve this goal – which we officially reached in 2020.

Learn more.

Share this insight

Currently reading

It pays to support mental health at work

Read more Impact stories