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Prince William's new project tackles one of society's (and the economy's) most crucial problems

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Prince William is launching a new workplace wellbeing website. Photo: Reuters

Prince William’s latest project is the launch of a website dedicated to improving mental wellbeing in the workplace. While the move may just seem part of the raft of charitable events the UK’s royal family undergoes as part of their duties, it is one that is crucial to helping society tackle an often silent affliction that wrecks people’s livelihoods and, in turn, severely impacts the economy.

The website, an online gateway to resources, training, and information, allows companies and managers to better understand and support staff that may be struggling at work and remove the stigma when it comes to mental health issues including stress, depression, anxiety as well as manic depression and schizophrenia.

A report by the charity Mind, which was launched in conjunction to Prince William’s announcement, revealed that 48% of 44,000 people surveyed said they have experienced a mental health problem in their current job. Even more distressing, half of them seem to be suffering in silence as they haven’t talked to their employer about it.

Don’t suffer in silence. Photo: Reuters/File Photo

Regardless of what profession you’re in, you spend more time in work and with your colleagues than anything else you do in life. Whether work environments contribute to the degradation of mental health or exacerbates conditions outside of the person’s control, there’s never been a more pertinent time for tools available to help those in work.

Furthermore, the impact of mental health issues doesn’t just affect the personal life of the person who is living with it, it also has repercussions for businesses and the economy. In a major report by the Institute of Directors, it showed how mental health affects the economy. Here are some key stats, highlighted by the IOD in the report:

  • 4.5%: The IOD said this percentage is the economic burden of poor mental health upon the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • 15.9%: The percentage of the UK working population in 2015 that had mental health problems.
  • 15.8 million: The number of work hours that are lost annually because of mental health issues. According to the Office for National Statistics, this makes up 11.5% of the total number of sick days for 2016.
  • 25%: This is the year-on-year increase of the number of days taken off work because of mental health issues.
  • 500,000: Over half a million Brits suffered from stress at work in 2016. This results in an average of 24 days lost per worker.

Meanwhile, a review by the UK government in 2017 showed that about 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems lose their jobs each year, costing the UK economy up to £99bn—of which employers bear the financial burden of £42bn.

But it’s not just about facts and figures, giving understanding and support to those who spend the most time with (colleagues) is crucial for society and wellbeing.