Home Mental Health & Well-Being New ONS Data: Number of People Out of Work Due to Long-Term Sickness Reaches Another Record High

New ONS Data: Number of People Out of Work Due to Long-Term Sickness Reaches Another Record High

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It shows the number of people out of work due to long-term sickness has reached another record high – a 1,265% increase on 2020 levels.

Vicky Walker, director of people at Westfield Health: “If you look at the big picture, right now in the UK, over 2.5 million people are out of work due to long-term sickness. That is extremely worrying. Equally worrying is that this number only seems to be growing, largely driven by those in the 50–64 age group.

From May – July this year, a record 491,433 people became economically inactive due to long-term sickness – a 1,265% increase on 2020 levels. 

“Part of the reason these numbers are so high is the mental health pandemic we’re facing as a nation. Over half (53%) of those who were economically inactive in Q1 2023 due to long-term sickness had depression or anxiety. And with NHS waiting lists for mental health services as long as they are, many of these people have to wait months, even years, before they get the help they need. 

“So how do we help these people and get people back into work? Well, as is often the case when it comes to health, prevention is better than cure. Supporting people before leaving the workforce is key to reducing economic activity rates. This means investing in structured occupational health and workplace well-being programmes tailored to your people’s needs.

“Your employees’ physical and mental health should be at the top of your priority list – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Our mental health at work report found that two-fifths (40%) of employees took time off due to mental ill health in 2022, costing around £18 billion to the UK economy.

“Access to mental health first aid and well-being workshops can provide a vital safety net for those who need it. In contrast, health cash plans can provide a cost-effective way to see medical and mental health practitioners without the expense or long waiting times. 

“By ensuring the proper support frameworks are in place and driving this from the top down, employers can work to reduce the number of mental health sick days and create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.” 

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