Help urgently needed for those with mental health problems to stay in work, reports Chief Medical Officer for England

9 September 2014

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said the number of working days lost due to stress, depression and anxiety has increased by 24 per cent since 2009, while the number lost due to serious mental illness has doubled. Around 70 million working days were lost to mental illness last year at an “astounding” cost of up to £100 billion to the economy, her report says.

In her annual report, she called for more help for those suffering from mental health problems, pointing out that three quarters of those suffering from mental illness get no treatment at all.

Dame Sally said faster help for anxiety, stress and depression could help to ensure more people stayed in work, and help the economy.

The report also fiercely attacked Government policies which have promoted the concept of improving overall “wellbeing” as a way of preventing mental health problems.

Successive governments have attempted to draw up policies based on the promotion of happiness, in the hope that increased satisfaction levels would protect some from mental health problems.

Dame Sally said she was concerned there was no robust evidence to support the concept, which risked taking attention and funding away from the one in four people suffering from mental health problems.