Mental Health and Work: United Kingdom

image of Mental Health and Work: United Kingdom

Tackling mental ill-health of the working-age population is becoming a key issue for labour market and social policies in OECD countries. OECD governments increasingly recognise that policy has a major role to play in keeping people with mental ill-health in employment or bringing those outside of the labour market back to it, and in preventing mental illness. This report on the United Kingdom is the sixth in a series of reports looking at how the broader education, health, social and labour market policy challenges identified in Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work (OECD, 2012) are being tackled in a number of OECD countries.


Assessment and recommendations

Mental ill-health has become a major driver for labour market exclusion in the United Kingdom. Each year, mental ill-health costs the economy an estimated GBP 70 billion, equivalent to 4.5% of GDP, through lost productivity, social benefits and health care. Mental disorders have become the most common reason for a disability benefit claim, accounting for almost 38% of all new claims. But mental illness is also widespread among workers and the unemployed and those receiving other social benefits, in particular income support and housing benefit. At the same time, people with a mental illness face a considerable social disadvantage, reflected in a large employment gap and an unemployment rate which is double the overall rate for those with a moderate mental disorder and four times the overall rate for those with a severe mental disorder. Taken together these labour market disadvantages culminate in very high income poverty risks for people suffering from mental ill-health, higher than in other OECD countries.


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