The government and business leaders met to discussing how employers can tackle the problems of mental health in the workplace.Statistics published recently show that one in six people suffer from mental health problems at any time. This has a significant cost for businesses, including SMEs, as experts estimate that UK staff take 80 million days sick due to mental health problems. This could be costing businesses £9 billion each year.Speaking at the conference, health minister Rosie Winterton urged businesses to implement a government initiative, Action on Stigma. This aims to help people suffering from mental health issues by increasing awareness of the problems and ensuring employers act to help staff."The issue of mental ill health in some workplaces still remains shrouded in secrecy, fear and ignorance," warned Ms Winterton."When someone does develop a problem at work, they might not get the support they need to help them recover. Employers can help by raising awareness of mental health issues amongst workers, supporting those affected and combating discrimination against employees and customers," she added.A spokesman for BT, who hosted the conference stressed just how important it was for all businesses, however small, to have a policy to deal with mental health issues."The benefits of a comprehensive mental well-being strategy are significant. Since implementing our own four years ago, we have reduced mental health sickness absence by 30 per cent. [In addition] 75 per cent of those off for more than six months return to their own job," said BT’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Litchfield. © Adfero Ltd

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