Investing in Londoners’ mental health in the workplace makes social and economic sense

The relationship between mental health and the economy of London is inextricably linked: a city with poor mental health - and unsophisticated workplace attitudes towards it - is a city whose full economic potential will not be reached.

Despite the millions of days lost to mental ill-health in our city every year, the unfair stigma still associated with mental health means too many employers are failing to build mental health-friendly environments for their employees; a claim borne out by the fact that 90% of people believe that disclosing a past or present mental health condition could damage their future career prospects.

We want to ensure that London is the most mental health friendly city in the world and it is only by removing barriers in work will this be achieved.

Work, and its associated pressures, can be a factor in triggering mental health ill-health or crises - that is why it is the responsibility of all employers to build a working culture that reduces the likelihood of mental ill health occurring, just as much as with physical health needs.

It is also true that work can be a great support to those living with mental illness. Employment provides financial independence, structure and purpose. Work is a place to socialise and develop new relationships and can contribute widely to a person’s sense of identity and self-worth. However, where 86% of people with a mental health condition (excluding depression) want to work, only between 10 and 16% of them are actually in employment. Part of making London a mental health friendly city is, therefore, providing opportunities for these people to gain access to employment.

“In a global city such as London, where so many people’s lives are focused on their work, it is necessary that employers treat the mental health of their employees as a priority. Having a mental health condition remains the number one labour market trigger for exclusion from the work place and this must be addressed if London is to be both healthy and prosperous”, said Maria Kane of the Cavendish Square Group.

Mental health Trusts across London offer support for people in work who are experiencing difficulties as well as people out of work looking for help regaining employment. For more information on local services, the Cavendish Square Group’s Mental Health Fact Book provides a directory of useful information.

If you are worried about speaking to your employer about mental health, organisations such Time to Change offer advice and support on their website. Further information can be found here.

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