The World Health Organisation predicts that, by 2030, depression will be the single biggest health burden on society, with more people affected by it than any other medical condition. As a result, mental health could emerge as the most pressing HR concern over the next two or three decades, not least because work itself is part of the problem. In 2007-08, about 442,000 individuals in Britain believed the level of work-related stress, depression or anxiety they were experiencing was making them ill. Aside from the cost of staff absences, employers have become more prone to litigation by employees suffering from psychiatric illness, particularly since the advent of disability discrimination laws in the mid-90s. Yet successful employers will look beyond mere legal compliance and devise an effective, long-term health and wellbeing agenda for staff. Priorities include curbing excessive working hours, training managers to deal with workplace stress proactively, and fostering a culture in which mental health issues can be raised and addressed.
Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org