UK Chief Medical Officer’s report: 70 million working days lost to mental illness last year and £70 to £100 billion cost to the economy

Chief Medical Officer’s report: the rising number of working days lost to mental illness creates personal suffering and costs the economy.Capture d’écran 2014-10-03 à 08.20.14

The rising number of working days lost to mental illness creates huge personal suffering and huge costs to the economy. We need to do more to help people with mental illness stay in work, Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies says today in her latest annual report focusing on the mental health of the nation.

With the number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety increasing by 24% since 2009, the CMO has called for NICE to analyse the cost benefit of fast-tracking access to treatment for working people who may fall out of work due to mental illness. Rapid access to treatment could improve people’s chances of staying in work.

The CMO also recommends simple changes to help people with mental illness stay in work by offering flexible working hours and employers making early and regular contact with employees on sick leave.

Key points

  • concerns about 70 million working days lost to mental illness last year and £70 to £100 billion cost to the economy
  • calls for cost-benefit analysis to investigate possible fast-track mental health care for working people at risk of falling out of work
  • makes case for investment in children and young people’s mental health to prevent later life mental illness, unemployment and criminal behaviour
  • calls for piloting of psychiatry services integrated into primary care

The report also finds that:

  • 75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all. CMO reinforces calls for parity of funding with the acute sector for mental health services and for waiting time targets for mental health services to be developed by NHS England
  • there is a need for greater focus on mental health care for children and young people. 50% of adult mental illness starts before age 15 and 75% by age 18. Early treatment for young people can help to prevent costly later life problems including: unemployment; substance misuse; crime and antisocial behaviour.
  • there should also be a greater focus on the link between long-term physical conditions and mental illness. People with a chronic physical condition have a 2.6-fold increase in the odds of having a mental illness. In a Manchester study of heart conditions, 20% had depression with a further 21% developing depression in the following year.
  • the Chief Medical Officer recommends piloting integrated psychiatry services with primary care and the development of psychiatric expertise in primary care. She says this could prevent underlying issues escalating and developing into enduring mental illness.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at CMO’s annual report: employment is good for mental health – Press releases – GOV.UK.

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