There were around 70 million working days lost to mental illness last year costing up to £100 billion to the economy. This was from a report by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, which also stated the number of working days lost due to stress, depression and anxiety has increased by 24 per cent since 2009, with the number lost due to serious mental illness has doubled during that time.

Dame Sally’s report stated that workers suffering from stress and depression could be fast-tracked through the health system to prevent them from taking time off from work. Health experts should investigate the benefits of speedier treatment for those who may fall out of work due to mental illness. In her annual report, she called for more help for people suffering from mental health problems, highlighting that three quarters of people who suffer from mental illness get no treatment at all.

Dame Sally said faster help for anxiety, stress and depression could help to ensure more people stayed in work, and help the economy.

NHS commissioners, the report advised, should “treat mental health more like physical health” and to introduce waiting targets so patients do not have to wait so long. Dame Sally said: "Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60-70 per cent of people with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health as well as the economy."

What can you do?

As a line manager or HR manager you should listen to your team member and allow them to explain how they feel and then what support you or the organisation can provide.

The support could be around looking at their current job and how they are coping plus how they interact with other members of the team. Do they require a change in hours or more flexibility to support them over a short-term period?

What support and advice on management of long term conditions is in the workplace such as counselling and mediation, promotion of wellbeing as well as good physical and mental health in the workplace.

HR and line managers may require additional training especially around the risks of dealing with stress and psychosocial risks at work.  

The six key risk areas to consider at work

Stress Risk Assessment training – 20 November 2014 more information at