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Poor mental health costs UK employers £51 billion a year for employees

  • The cost of poor employee mental health has decreased from £56bn in 2021, but increased from £45bn in 2019.
  • 46% of working parents are concerned about their children’s mental health, costing UK employers £8bn annually due to impact on performance, taking time off work or leaving their roles;
  • 63% of respondents are experiencing at least one characteristic of burnout, an increase from 51% in 2021;
  • For every £1 spent on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce, employers get (on average) about £4.70 back in increased productivity.

New mental health research from Deloitte has revealed that the cost to employers of poor mental health is £51bn per year*, a decrease from £55bn in 2021, but an increase from £45bn in 2019.* Presenteeism is the largest contributor, where people work in spite of illness and not perform at their full ability, which is costing employers around £24 bn annually.

Deloitte's fourth report on mental health and the workplace also shows that over half (58%) of survey respondents say their mental wellbeing was good or excellent. There were also improvements for younger people with 64% of 18-24-year-olds reporting that their overall their mental health is good, an increase from 53% in 2022.

Impact of children’s mental health

This year’s report also explores the impact of children’s poor mental health on working parents for the first time. According to the survey, 46% of working parents are concerned about their children’s mental health. Half of those who are concerned about their children’s mental health say it impacts their performance at work. Deloitte’s report in collaboration with mental health charities Place 2 Be and Mind estimates that working parents’ concern about their children’s mental health is costing UK employers £8bn annually. The cost is due to parents and carers taking time off work to care for their children, the impact on their performance, or leaving their roles.

A majority of working parents (63%) who were concerned about their children’s mental health, say they turn to external sources of support to manage their children’s mental health challenges, rather than approaching their employer for additional support. Of those who are concerned about their children’s mental health, a third (32%) have looked to reduce their working hours and 19% have turned to their employer for additional support, such as an employee support line, childcare, or flexible working arrangements.

Juggling demands of work alongside caring for a child with mental health difficulties led to 10% of parents taking up to five days off per year to support their children. One in a hundred working parents have left their jobs because of the poor mental health of their children.

Elizabeth Hampson, Deloitte partner and author of the latest mental health research, said: “Work performance is being impacted as more than one in ten parents have taken time off work to support their children’s mental health and one in 100 is leaving a job as they simply can’t juggle the demands of work alongside caring for a child with mental health difficulties. Alongside wider societal support, our research shows that specific support, including for working parents, can help reduce time out of the office and presenteeism.”

Catherine Roche, CEO, Place2Be, children’s mental health charity, said: “Children don’t come with a manual: in today’s fast-moving landscape we need to support parents and carers to build their confidence and understanding of emotions and behaviours, so they can foster resilience, healthy coping mechanisms, good mental health and wellbeing. Place2Be is delighted to work in partnership with Deloitte, whom we applaud for investing time and research into these complex issues. Creating mentally healthy workplaces has long-reaching benefits for employers, employees and society as a whole.”


Deloitte’s research found an increase in some elements of burnout. 63% of respondents said they were exhibiting at least one sign of burnout, such as feeling of exhaustion, mental distance from their job, or a decline in performance at work, an increase from 51% in the previous survey. Given the implications of burnout on job performance and productivity, as well as employees’ overall wellbeing, there is a clear case for employers to recognise and address this issue.

Overall, the main concerns affecting the mental health of working adults are the increasing cost of living (60%), personal/family finances (46%), and job security (22%). Working parents were most concerned about the rising cost of living (65%), alongside family finances (55%) and about the mental health of their children (29%).

Dr Sarah Hughes, CEO of Mind, said: “Work is important. It affects every area of our lives - and that includes our ability to participate in our families, perhaps to be a supportive parent, and enjoy spending time with our loved ones.

“We know it’s critical for businesses to consider ways to better support working parents - considering flexibility, providing additional support, and creating a culture where talking about life’s challenges is acceptable. This research finds a link between the mental wellbeing of young people and their parents - when one suffers, the other does too.

“Parents of children with poor mental health found themselves struggling to do their best at work, perpetuating a cycle of stress both in their home life and in their working life. We envision a future where an employer can support the mental and emotional health not just of their own employees, but their families and networks too.”

Employer support

Deloitte’s return on investment analysis of employee mental health interventions that was conducted as part of the research shows on average, for every £1 spent on supporting their people’s mental health, employers get nearly £4.70** back on their investment in improved productivity. Demonstrating that higher return on investment can be achieved by early interventions, such as organisation-wide culture change and education, than more in-depth support that may be needed at a later stage when a person is struggling.

Hampson concluded: “Employers are increasingly putting mental health and wellbeing at the heart of their business and providing effective mental health support for their people. The benefits of providing targeted support for employees are clear and compelling. Employers need concrete evidence to make informed decisions about how to invest in workplace mental health programmes and maximise benefits, including financial returns. We hope to inspire employers to take stock of the importance of their people’s wellbeing and mental health and put in place effective interventions to support their people, including working parents.”


Notes to editors:

*The findings in this report are based on a survey of 3,156 working adults (1834 were working parents) across the UK, conducted in October 2023 by YouGov on behalf of Deloitte. The findings fed into Deloitte’s models for the costs to employers of poor mental health and the returns on investing in support measures to improve mental wellbeing.

Deloitte AI Institute
** Employers will receive £4.70 for every £1 invested. Return for investment (ROI) methodology is based on a literature review of 26 sources published since 2011, which have reported financial returns on workplace wellbeing interventions. Averaging the ROI of these has resulted in the overall figures presented.