United Kingdom

Mental health issues prevalent among disadvantaged backgrounds, Aon whitepaper finds

May 2017


There is a clear link between health and wealth, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds being more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, Aon has said.

In their whitepaper published earlier this week, Wellbeing: The correlation between employee health and financial wellbeing, Aon has found evidence of those from poorer, disadvantaged backgrounds being disproportionately affected by common mental health problems.

According to the whitepaper which cites a series of reports by the World Health Organisation's Europe Office (Mental health, resilience and inequalities, Freidli, 2009) and the Centre for Social Justice (Mental Health: Poverty, Ethnicity and Family Breakdown, Interim Policy Briefing, 2011), children and adults living in the lowest 20 per cent income bracket in the UK are two to three times more likely to develop mental health problems than those in the highest income bracket.

Indeed, the World Health Organization itself states that an overwhelming majority" of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are living in poverty or poor physical health whilst a recent report in the British medical journal the Lancet found that wealthy Americans can live up to 15 years longer than their poorer counterparts.

Mark Witte, principal at Aon Employee Benefits said: "Although the huge amount of research and data on this issue demonstrates the importance of recognising that mental health conditions can affect anyone, certain groups in society are likely to find themselves disproportionately affected. Regrettably this often tends to be those most in need of support."

Variations between age and gender have also been identified. Government statistics from the 2013 UK Wellbeing Survey revealed that 1 in 5 people in the UK over 16 will suffer from anxiety or depression at some point in their lives.

The report highlighted regional differences, too. The Office for National Statistic's 2013 report on suicide found that there 13.8 deaths per 100,000 in East England compared with 7.9 deaths per 100,000 in London. 78 per cent of reported suicides were found to be from men.

In the context of workplace mental health, Aon's whitepaper reveals that the economic and social cost of mental health problems in the UK has been estimated around £105bn, according to official government statistics, demonstrating a strong case for further investment in employee wellbeing.

Witte added: "Employers needs to realise that across an increasingly broad workforce demographic, different health risks will impact different people to a varying degree. With a multi-generational workforce, with employees across the full pay spectrum as well as those working and living in different parts of the country, employers should use a targeted approach to wellbeing campaigns.

"Crucially, investment can be aligned to where health risks - such as mental health - present themselves most often and communication and engagement strategies can also be tailored to meet the needs of each particular demographic."



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