Wales Leads in Tackling the Economic and Social Costs of Stress and Depression

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Wales Leads in Tackling the Economic and Social Costs of Stress and Depression


Byline: By Sion Barry Western Mail

Integrated support cuts cost to the taxpayer by thousands ABSENCE from work due to stress, anxiety and depression in the public sector costs every Welsh taxpayer pounds 419 a year, says a project group set up to tackle the issue. With one in three Welsh workers being in the public sector, Healthy Minds at Work (HMAW) says that people not working due to stress-related issues is therefore costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

The money is needed to pay for replacement staff, state benefits and a range of other allowances. Employers also face substantial costs of sickness pay, or having to recruit and train replacement staff. It is also a personal tragedy for the individuals concerned and their families.

In response HMAW has devised strategies that provide an integrated network of help and support to help people tackle the root of stress related problems so they can stay in their jobs.

This job-retention programme has proved so successful among the 42 Welsh employer and advisory partners (mainly public sector) that it is being emulated in other European countries.

It is also in line with the Welsh Assembly GovernmentAEs action plan for the integrated delivery of public services, announced last week.

HMAW is a Remploy-led initiative backed by the European Social Equal Fund. It is administered by the Welsh Assembly Government Wales European Funding Office (Wefo), and is a partnership between disability employment specialist Remploy, Unison Cymru, and a range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

Project director Mike Clarke, a Remploy senior manager, told a conference in Cardiff yesterday, oWith one in five people in Wales likely to experience stress, anxiety or depression at some time during their working lives, this is a major economic and social issue.

oPeople who suffer from severe stress or depression are not different people, they just have different needs. For example government and other work support initiatives do not recognise that mental health problems may be spasmodic and do not fit into time-bound, project-based interventions. …

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