Work and mental health in the UK

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2256 (Published 21 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2256
  1. Max Henderson, senior lecturer in epidemiological and occupational psychiatry1,
  2. Ira Madan, consultant in occupational medicine2,
  3. Matthew Hotopf, professor of general hospital psychiatry1
  1. 1Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, London SE5 9RJ, UK
  2. 2Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. max.j.henderson{at}kcl.ac.uk

A case of could do better

Psychiatric disorders are the most important cause of absence due to sickness and receipt of health related benefits in the United Kingdom.1 Recipients stay on benefits longer and have worse employment outcomes than those with physical disorders.2 An alarming employment gap now exists—the rate of employment in people with common mental disorders is half that of people without a psychiatric disorder, and this figure is a quarter in those with more “severe” illnesses, such as schizophrenia.2

In 2012 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published Sick on the Job, a substantial and important review of the challenge posed by psychiatric disorders across its member states.3 A series of reports on how individual member countries are meeting these challenges has followed. The UK report on mental health and work, published in February 2014,2 draws on data provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, the psychiatric morbidity survey, the OECD’s Eurostat labour market programme database, and Eurobarometer. It estimates that psychiatric disorders cost the UK economy £70bn (€83.8bn; $115.9bn; 4.5% gross domestic product) a year. Although the UK is more aware of the impact of psychiatric disorders on employment than most OECD countries, much remains …

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