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What is the mental health crisis costing your business?

Updated: May 21

When I write about employee mental health, I do so from a slightly unique position. I’ve grown up watching my family run their own business, employing up to 100 staff. I’ve been self-employed, employed, and now employ numerous staff myself.


My initial mental breakdown happened when I was employed at a medium-sized, independently owned vet practice. The management team handled it in a way they believed was best at the time, but honestly, it left much to be desired and ultimately led to me making the devastating decision to leave the practice and the profession.


I loved my job, and I was really good at it too. You couldn’t have found someone who cared more about our patients and the people than me. It was such a waste. They lost the investment they’d made in all my training and development, including my qualifications and CPD. My absence left yet another employee gap to be filled in an already stretched team.


I did return to work for a while, but I never recovered enough from my breakdown to want to stay in veterinary practice forever. I knew as soon as another opportunity arose, I would leave. In all, I was off for over four months.


The only time I heard from any of the management team was to arrange well-being check-ins at the office. These appointments left me shaking and vomiting in the days leading up to them, and I came away with no plans going forward, just them asking when I was coming back, and me saying not yet. Those experiences in themselves were enough to set my recovery back weeks.


There was no additional support offered or a plan in place to get me better and back to work. And I wasn’t alone. At one point, there were four members of the same team off work due to mental health issues. I remember one day, once I’d returned to work, one of the other nurses called me in tears to say she was having a panic attack and had nearly crashed her car into a tree because she just couldn’t come into work anymore. I heard how the management team spoke about her and knew that’s how they’d spoken about me too. They were stressed and frustrated.


I employ staff in my own small business now, and while I don’t find any of it okay, I can understand how it happened. Mental ill health costs UK companies in the region of £56 billion a year. It can cripple a small business. It is so unbelievably difficult to have an essential member of staff off on long-term sick leave. And no one seems to have any regard for your mental health as the boss trying to manage it all.


You’re paying them, you’re paying someone else extra to cover their work. You can’t employ someone else to fill their role. You can’t terminate them. It’s financially and emotionally hard. If you care about your staff, you genuinely want them to get better and feel powerless to do anything. Then there’s the worst-case scenario: you lose a member of your team to suicide. The bigger implications of that are incredibly complex.


Not many people know this, but when Bridging the Gap, Mind Matters was founded, it was initially a community interest company, not a charity. I wanted to go into businesses to deliver mental health education to management teams and be able to provide the respite program to any staff that were struggling. I’d developed this health program, and I knew it could massively benefit both employees and employers.


Sometimes jobs are going to be stressful, and sometimes life is hard. The key to mental health is learning management and wellness strategies early on. That’s what the program does. The counseling taught me about coping with stress and work-life balance and addressed some underlying issues. The community-focused physical therapy improved my health, nutrition, hydration, and cognitive function. I slept better, got up earlier, and had a hobby and friends outside of work that I loved. Plus, the endorphins physically altered my brain chemistry and transformed my mood. I wanted to make sure everyone could get access to it.


Obviously, it grew and branched into different directions, with us spending the last few years building our infrastructure as a charity and relying on grants and fundraising to deliver sessions to those people in the community who need it most. We’re ready now to come back to where it started, helping employers and employees thrive in work and at home, reducing the cost mental illness has on your business.



Mental health legislation is only set to become more stringent, and with mental ill health on the rise, it’s not something you can bury your head in the sand about. Having a mental health first aider who signposts to support services isn’t enough if you don’t also have those support services available.


The BTG Pay It Forward program is completely unique in its offering. You make a monthly tax-deductible donation to the charity. As a registered supporter, your staff have funded access to support via the program whenever they need it. And if there’s no one currently in need of support at your firm, we’ll pay it forward into the local community, helping you meet social responsibility goals.


Donations start from as little as £62.50 per month and can transform your workplace well-being. If you’d like more info on how we can support you, please get in touch or visit the website to find the pay it forward info.


Vicky x


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