Thursday 2 March 2017 12:01 am

Half of UK workplaces report mental health problems, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD)

Over half of British employers (54 per cent) have been approached by staff suffering mental ill health, a new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has revealed. 

Ninety eight per cent of business leaders surveyed said good mental health is important to the performance of their organisation. However, just 14 per cent have a formal mental health policy in place and fewer than one in five offer line management training.

In a new paper titled "A little more conversation", the IoD called on UK businesses to set up formal mental health policies and integrate mental health awareness into line management training. The paper cited OECD statistics that showed that mental health costs the UK some five per cent of GDP.

Read more: Britons taking the day off work cost the economy £18bn every year

The business group called on large UK firms to consider giving a non-executive board member "specific responsibility for ensuring mental health awareness and training is integrated across businesses". It also urged the government to introduce a training scheme for small businesses.

IoD's report comes after Prime Minister Theresa May announced an independent review into mental health in the workplace earlier this year.

In a foreword to the report, Prince William wrote that Britain’s employers must “support the mental as well as physical wellbeing of the 31m people at work in Britain”.

Stephen Martin, director general at the IoD, said: “The time has come for mental health to get the recognition it deserves at work. Coming from a background in construction, I know the lengths companies go to protect the physical health of their staff, but their mental wellbeing has often not received enough attention."

"Prevention is always better than cure, so we need to ensure businesses are supported by government to create an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems at an early stage. The Prime Minister deserves credit for putting mental health so far up the agenda, and removing the stigma of mental health will require joint leadership from politicians, business leaders, and practitioners."