Almost half (45%) of UK employers considered stress and mental illness a major cause of long-term employee absence; according to research.
Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry, surveyed 500 UK businesses and 1,000 employees.
The organisation's research found a quarter (25%) of employers also said stress and mental health were major causes of short-term absence.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD (pictured), said: "Where once stress and mental ill health were commonly overlooked as a key health risk for businesses (compared to acute medical conditions such as heart attack or cancer) employers appear to be taking note."
Dealing with the issues of stress and mental ill health is particularly tough for employers as mental illness is often a contributory factor for an absence or develops as an absence continues, GRiD said.
However, 40% of employers are recording the secondary cause of absence as well as the primary stated reason for long-term sick, making it leave it is easier to measure the impact mental health plays from the outset.
Employers are "concerned" about the impact of such triggers on their business, with 36% of those sampled seeing managing stress and mental ill health as their top health and wellbeing issue - up 5% on last year.
A further quarter (25%) thought that maintaining a good work/life balance amongst employees was a top priority.
Moxham added: "These figures prove just how big an impact stress and mental ill health can have on employers when managing the well-being of their business and the implications for absence rates if left unchecked.
"It is encouraging to see that more and more businesses are recognising that stress related absence is a major issue. Often, the condition keeping people away from work is not necessarily the same as the condition that caused the initial absence. Many employers are now recording the secondary cause of absence as part of the measures they use to reduce absence in the workplace. "