Making the business case for supporting mental health in the workplace

Supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace makes good business sense as it can improve employee engagement, loyalty and productivity. Whether you are a responsible employer or an employee who wants to improve mental health in your workplace, there may be a need to build a business case to convince your colleagues or managers. Some simple facts and figures and suitable resources are set out below which can be utilised to complement your business case.

 There is a great deal of evidence that illustrates just how common mental health issues are and how they can have a detrimental effect in the workplace.

  • One in four people will experience a mental health issue in any given year (2)
  • Between one in five and one in six working age adults is depressed, anxious or experiencing stress-related problems at any one time (2–4)
  • The Chief Medical Officer estimates that around 70 million working days are lost every year because of mental ill health, costing Britain between £70bn and £100bn (1)
  • In 2014/15 anxiety, depression and stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health, and 43% of all working days lost to ill health, according to the Health and Safety Executive (4)
  • The Centre for Mental Health estimates that presenteeism (people who come to work but are unproductive because they are unwell) accounts for 1.5 times more losses in productivity than absences. (5)
  • One in five people take a day off due to stress, yet up to 90% feel unable to be honest about this being the reason for their absence (6)
  • A report from Bupa, based on You Gov research among 6,000 employees in a range of industries, found that one in five middle managers had felt stressed for more than a year and one in ten felt close to breaking point. Half the managers surveyed felt 'constantly worried' and four in ten had experienced depression as a result of being stressed (7) 

Developing the business case may be the start of the journey and lead to the planning and implementation stages of a workplace wellbeing programme.


(1) Davies SC. Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013, Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence. Department of Health. 2014. Available at: government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/413196/CMO_ web_doc.pdf

(2) McManus S et al. Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007. Results of a household survey. Health and Social Information Centre, Social Care Statistics. 2009. Available at: http:// adul-psyc-morb-res-hou-sur-eng-2007- rep.pdf 

(3) Beaumont J, Lofts H. Measuring National Well-being – Health, 2013. Office for National Statistics. 2013. Available at: http:// uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons. 

(4) Labour Force Survey (LFS) Health and Safety Statistics for Great Britain. Health and Safety Executive. 2015. Available at: uk/statistics/causdis/stress/index.htm

(5) Parsonage M. Mental health at work: developing the business case. Sainsbury’s Centre for Mental Health. 2007. Available at:

(6) YouGov poll commissioned by Mind. Mind. 2013. Available at: http:// news/work-is-biggest-cause-of-stress-inpeoples-lives/#.V35MZLgrK71

(7) Crawford R. Line managers too stressed to help staff. Employee Benefits. 2013. Available at: http://

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