Mental Health: An Overview

Purple View Point

Purple believe mental health is an issue businesses cannot ignore. With one in four people experiencing a mental health condition in their life it can no longer be viewed as a marginal issue. First and foremost, people with mental health conditions are consumers. The Purple Pound (the consumer spending power of disabled consumers and their families) equates to £249 billion a year to the UK economy, so getting your consumer strategies in place to reach out to people with mental health will deliver bottom line commercial benefits – and it is not difficult to do.

With flexibility and a level of creativity businesses can proactively recruit and retain people with mental health increasing their access to potential employees, and ensuring those who acquire a mental health condition can be retained for the benefit of both the employee and business.


Mental health covers a broad spectrum of conditions from persistent anxiety, eating disorders, stress-related syndromes to personality disorders. The condition may fluctuate or be triggered by a set of factors. Many people will acquire a mental health condition during their life.

For an organisation the key facts and figures to note are:

  • 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health issue during their lifetime
  • The business cost of not addressing mental health issues is starkly captured in the following statistics:
  • £8.4 billion a year is lost to sickness absence related to a mental health condition
  • £2.4 billion is the cost of replacing staff who leave a job due to mental ill health
  • £15.1 billion is the estimated cost of reduced productivity due to mental health. This is known as presenteeism and is where people are at work but not performing to their capacity due to their mental health
  • The average cost to UK businesses due to mental health equates to an estimated £1,035 per employee, per year
  • 31% of the workforce in the UK have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition
  • Just 13% of the 31% above felt able to disclose a mental health issue to their manager
  • In terms of consumer spending power, the Purple Pound equates to £249 billion a year which includes people with mental health conditions

Advice & Guidance

  • Ensure your HR policies are proactive in supporting disabled people and those with long term health conditions. You might wish to be explicit about supporting employees with mental health conditions
  • Ensure your policies related to sickness absence refer to disability-related absence as a separate but related issue. Again, you may wish to be explicit about mental health
  • Ensure you have a protocol in place to positively support an employee who acquires a mental health condition whilst in your employment
  • Consider setting up an internal support line, or with an external provider, where staff can go if they are experiencing a mental health issue. Investing in proactive wellbeing programmes works for all staff and evidence shows it reduces long term costs through periods of sickness absence and staff turnover if people were to leave
  • Ensure all your HR staff and hiring managers have received mental health awareness training and/or refresher courses in the last 18 months
  • Consider including mental health management in any line management training programmes
  • Ensure that your organisation’s commitment and approach to mental health forms part of your staff induction programme
  • Consider establishing a peer support network for employees experiencing mental health conditions
  • If you are a small business explore your local networks and look for partnerships with mental health support networks
  • Consider using positive case studies around supporting staff with mental health in your corporate materials
  • In reaching out to the Purple Pound market, consider a targeted marketing campaign to organisations and their networks aligned to supporting mental health. But always ensure you are able to evidence your credentials.
Skip to content