A report from the CentreForum Mental Health Commission think-tank has called for the government to take the lead when it comes to the growing issue of mental health related sickness, absence and loss productivity problems in the workplace.

The commission, which is chaired by former health minister Paul Burstow MP, wants all public sector enterprises and organisations with over 500 employees to become 'mental-health-friendly' employers in a bid to reduce the estimated £23.5bn cost of lost productivity due to mental health-related absences.

The commissions report, titled "The pursuit of happiness: a new ambition for our mental health", said:

A mark of a good employer should be one who makes it obvious that people with a mental health problem can disclose and talk about it without prejudice. By 2020, 90% of these organisations should meet these requirements

It goes on to list five key priorities the government should focus on between now and 2020:

    • Establish the mental wellbeing of the nation or the "pursuit of happiness" as a clear and measurable goal of government
    • Roll out a National Wellbeing Programme to promote mutual support, self-care and recovery, and reduce the crippling stigma that too often goes hand in hand with mental ill health
    • Prioritise investment in the mental health of children and young people right from conception
    • Make places of work mental health friendly with government leading the way as an employer
    • Better equip primary care to identify and treat mental health problems, closing the treatment gap that leaves one in four of the adult population needlessly suffering from depression and anxiety and 1-2% experiencing a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia.

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