Chief Medical Officers launch report on mental health in the workplace

13 December 2017 .
  • Global Chief Medical Officers’ Network, powered by Bupa, is taking action to support mental health in the workplace.
  • Depression is expected to become the leading global disease burden by 2030, costing 6 trillion USD a year.1
  • Report shares case studies from global companies that are making employee mental health and wellbeing a priority and recommendations to support organisations implement mental health initiatives.

Members of the Global Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Network have launched a report encouraging employers to take urgent action to support their employees on mental health issues. The CMO Network is a group representing some of the world’s largest employers, powered by Bupa.

If action is not taken, mental illness is expected to be the leading cause of disability and workplace absence by 2030 – costing an estimated six trillion USD and hampering the success of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Health: Our Business III showcases case studies from global companies employing millions of people combined who are making employee mental health and wellbeing a priority.

The report examines the barriers that businesses and employees face in this area, including stigma, while outlining recommendations to guide organisations in successfully planning and implementing employee-focused mental health initiatives.

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “For far too long we have considered mental health in complete isolation to the workplace. The opportunity to make a positive change is huge and we are already seeing some great examples of organisations rising to this challenge. Hopefully through our network we can influence more businesses to join us on this journey – and organisation by organisation we can make a big difference.

“The most significant barrier to addressing mental health, outlined in the report, is stigma. The CMO Network is committed to making a step change in mental health by encouraging leaders within organisations to give the same level of attention and priority to mental health as they have to physical safety over the years. It’s now important that we have a global discussion to tackle this very real challenge.”

Actions encouraged in the report include recognising that mental health should be part of a business’s strategy, increasing awareness campaigns with senior and influential role models sharing personal stories, and provision of mental health support practices such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga.

The report launch comes as 18 global organisations from the CMO Network today come together at an IBM Watson meeting in Boston, US, to discuss how they will commit to driving change in mental health awareness and support in the workplace.

Companies in the Global CMO Network include Unilever, GSK and IBM, and employ around eight million people combined. Each signatory is committed to take action to support global efforts to make mental health a priority in the workplace.

Dr Zollinger-Read added: “Businesses need to view wellbeing as a key driver of individual and business performance. In a world where organisations expect their employees to be ‘switched on’ 24/7, leaders need to step back and ensure everybody is getting the support they need, when they need it. It’s important for organisations to come together to share learnings and tackle this very real issue.”

Bupa is taking action to support employees in helping them live longer, healthier, happier lives, and has implemented a number of activities and programmes in its businesses worldwide as part of the Smile employee health and wellbeing programme.

Notes to editor

For further information please contact:

Aaron Bains, Senior Press Officer, Bupa  
T: +44 7891 610 599 E:

About the CMO Network

The global Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Network is a group of over 50 world-leading clinicians in commerce, powered by Bupa, which is committed to bringing about a lasting improvement to people’s health.

Together, they can leverage their combined insight, experience and global reach to solve some of the world’s biggest health problems through workplace health initiatives.

The network comprises Chief Medical Officers from some of the world’s most innovative businesses who have collective responsibility of a workforce of over eight million people.

Previous reports published by the CMO Network are also available.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 15.7m customers and contributes over 70% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with 15m customers. We care for around 23,000 residents in our UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain aged care businesses.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, the US, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

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