The cost of mental health problems is equivalent to about 4.5% of GDP, in the form of lost productivity at work, benefit payments and healthcare expenditure. These figures come from a report published by the OECD which considers it essential for the United Kingdom to improve its policies for handling patients suffering from a mental health problem in order to promote their return to the workplace.
About 370,000 Britons, or 1% of the working-age population, receive disability benefits each year. That is twice as much as the average for the 34 other OECD member countries. Moreover, 40% of new applications for disability benefits are made by people suffering mental health problems.
The OECD recommends that the United Kingdom:
- Supervise the efficiency of the Health and Work Service. This new service, which came into effect on 1 January 2014, provides advice and support for employers whose employees are on sick leave for more than four weeks. A very special effort should also be made concerning the mental health of employees returning to their work stations;
- Make better allowance for the mental health-related problems of insured in various government departments;
- Increase the resources of the organizations in charge of the return to the workplace of the unemployed, so that they may have the means to pay special attention to job-seekers suffering from mental health problems;
- Improve the synergies between healthcare organizations and organizations in charge of job-seekers;
- Extend access to psychotherapies.
The OECD has already published several reports on mental health and employment concerning Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.