The Foreword to this useful guide points out that the 2011 Absence Management Survey produced by the CIPD reports that stress is now the most common reason for long-term sickness absence of both manual and non-manual workers.

The ACAS guide aims to show employers and managers how to spot the early signs of mental health issues, how to approach an employee who may have a mental health condition, and how to try to help them cope with their condition in order to work effectively. As well as practical advice, the guide also seeks to show employers how to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health issues and develop a culture where employees with mental health issues feel comfortable disclosing their illness, allowing action to be taken at an earlier stage.

Mental health problems cost employers £30 billion a year, with around half of that stemming from unwell employees underperforming at work. Figures from the Centre for Mental Health charity estimate that if improvements were made to the management of mental health at work by taking measures such as those laid out in the ACAS guide, these costs could be cut by around a third.

The guide can be downloaded free from the ACAS website.