In addition to providing financial and strategic support, business mentor and angel investor Mark Lyttleton offers the founders he works with personal advice, helping them to deal with the significant stresses and challenges involved in building a business, growing it and positioning it for success. This article will explore the issue of mental health and the detrimental impact of conditions like stress, anxiety and depression on the UK workforce.

According to Health and Safety Executive statistics for 2021 to 2022, the rate of work-related mental health issues is rising, with work-related stress, anxiety and depression accounting for more than half of all work-related illnesses in the UK. This increase continues a trend that started years before the pandemic, with self-reported incidences of work-related stress, anxiety and depression higher than pre-COVID-19 levels. Learn more about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the UK by viewing the attached infographic.

The Health and Safety Executive report illustrated the significant impact of work-related mental health issues on workplace productivity, with major financial implications for businesses, and indeed the economy as a whole. Over the course of a single year, a staggering 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, the report revealed, with those conditions accounting for 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill-health. The embedded PDF provides more information about the physical and psychological impact of stress.

Against this backdrop, the need for UK businesses to support the mental health of their employees is obvious. Indeed, employers have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to support the health of their employees, including undertaking risk assessments, protecting staff from discrimination, and ensuring working environments are safe. Anti-discrimination laws make it an offence to discriminate against someone with a disability. Under the Equality Act 2020, mental health problems are regarded as a disability under the law, provided they meet certain criteria stipulated in that act.

Creating an environment where staff can speak openly about mental health has significant advantages not just for the individual, but the business itself, leading to less mental health-related absences, and improving workplace morale. Regular one-to-one meetings with managers provide an opportunity for employees to discuss any issues they are experiencing. In addition, encouraging positive mental health, e.g. through mental health awareness workshops or training can also be incredibly beneficial. Learn more about strategies to promote positive mental health at work by viewing the embedded video.