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UK Corporates Stalling on Mental Health

Only a quarter (24) of the UK’s 101 largest listed companies have improved their performance on workplace mental health in the past year, according to CCLA. The 2024 iteration of the asset manager’s Corporate Mental Health Benchmark also evidenced that investors and policymakers were increasingly concerned about the cost of mental health issues to the UK economy. An NHS-commissioned study estimated annual economic losses due to poor mental health at around £110 billion in England alone, while recent Office for National Statistics figures showed a 31% rise in the number of UK workers economically inactive due to related illnesses since 2019. In total, 54 investors with a combined US$9.4 trillion in AUM were supporting engagement efforts on workplace mental health, CCLA said. Of the 101 assessed businesses, 20 ranked in the top-two performance tiers in 2024 – up from 10 in 2022 – suggesting close to 1.5 million employees now worked in businesses with a “mature approach” to mental health. Six firms made the top tier – BT Group, Centrica, Entain, Experian, J Sainsbury and Serco Group – while around half ranked in the bottom-two tiers, suggesting many are still in the early stages of formalising their approach to mental health management and disclosure. “The significant increase in engagement on this topic since 2023 suggests a growing awareness by companies of poor mental health as a business risk, with many informally citing talent acquisition and retention as a key driver,” said Amy Browne, Stewardship Lead at CCLA and co-author of the report. “Importantly, this year’s benchmark demonstrates that the most progressive companies are making concerted efforts to get ahead on mental health.” However, the results revealed a widening gap between leaders and a slow-moving majority, with lingering concerns around lack of progress in companies at the bottom of the tier rankings. “Employees deserve better from their employers,” Browne added. Only 44% of companies said they provided training for line managers to support employees’ mental health issues (down from 50% in 2023), while 42% of CEOs publicly promoted workplace mental health. Now in its third year, CCLA’s benchmark covers 4.9 million workers.

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