Investing in mental health could save £1m a day in Scotland

8th November 2010

That’s the message from the new SAMH campaign focusing on employability. ‘Dismissed?’ links up issues of welfare reform and employment and uses economic arguments to make the case for better support for people with experience of mental health problems both within, and towards, employment.

Research reveals that sickness absence as a result of mental health problems at work cost Scotland’s employers around £360 million a year – the equivalent of almost £1million a day. At the same time research has also shown that fewer than four in ten employers would consider employing someone with a history of mental health problems, compared to more than six in ten for candidates with a physical disability.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign SAMH Chief Executive, Billy Watson, said: “Many people with mental health problems in Scotland want to work, but face real difficulties in doing so. The ‘Dismissed?’ campaign is about making sure that people in that situation are properly supported.

With one in four Scots experiencing mental health problems at some point in their lives, we think this is an issue that all businesses need to be aware of. By offering the right support to employees with mental health problems, employers could cut down on sickness absence, saving the Scottish economy almost £1million a day.

However, some people are currently too unwell to work and our campaign is the first in Scotland to focus on the whole employability journey. We want to make it easier for these individuals to access the benefits that they are entitled to.

In an article linked to the campaign in Holyrood magazine ‘see me’ Campaign Director, Suzie Vestri, highlights encouraging research suggesting that Scottish employers have a more open approach to employing people with experience of mental health problems than those in England.

In the same article, SRN Director, Simon Bradstreet, described the need to find ways to break the ‘cycle of low awareness’ on mental health issues in the workplace, with one potential means being encouraging people to see their experience of living with mental health challenges as a potential asset to employers: “…there is something there about openness and ownership and people saying, ‘Yes, I have had mental health problems, but this is what I can do and what I can bring and this is why I will be an asset to your organisation.’ And then employers are going to start to get the message.

 

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