· News

Young people most vulnerable to poor mental health at work

A report by Deloitte has found poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year, and that young people are the most susceptible

Mental health and employers: the case for refreshing investment reported that the £45 billion is a rise of 16% since 2016 – an extra £6 billion a year.

Building on its 2017 review of workplace mental health, Deloitte’s latest research found that there have been positive changes in workplaces, including greater openness in discussing mental health at work in larger employers in particular and more provision of support overall.

Yet despite this progress costs continue to climb, with the report determining young people as a particularly vulnerable demographic to suffer poor mental health in the workplace.

Deloitte referenced Vitality’s survey Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, in which 17.2% of employees aged 18 to 20 suffered from depression and 53.3% had a problem with sleep.

Employers lose the equivalent of 8.3% of the salaries of those aged 18 to 29 as a result of poor mental health – the highest of any employee age group.

Young people were also less likely to disclose mental health problems to employers and more likely to use their holiday instead of taking days off work, with 11% of 18-to 24-year-olds admitting to using annual or unpaid leave for mental health-related absence.

Elizabeth Hampson, Deloitte director and author of the report told HR magazine: "Studies show an increased prevalence of mental health problems for this young age group. Our research indicates that young people need more support from employers than they are currently receiving, and that it would be beneficial to help young employees through the significant life transition of starting a new job."

According to the research, while there are tools available to help employers take on younger staff there far fewer tools to help them support young people once they are employed.

Rebecca George, Deloitte vice chair and UK public sector leader, said: “As our ways of working evolve so do expectations of employers about how we should support our people.

“This analysis shows very clearly that it pays for employers to provide mental health support at work and that early intervention is vital, for those experiencing poor mental health and employers alike.”