Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and care services minister Paul Burstow have called on upon employers to take steps to improve the mental health of their staff and to treat it the same as other health problems.
A 2010 survey found that 72% of workplaces had no formal mental health policy, and 23% of managers were unable to name a single mental health condition.
One worker in six has a mental health problem, almost five million of Britain's 29 million workers. It is estimated mental ill-health, such as depression and anxiety, costs British businesses over £1000 per employee every year, or almost £30 billion across the UK economy.
The wider economic costs of mental illness in England have been estimated at £105.2 billion each year. This includes direct costs of services, lost productivity at work and reduced quality of life.
Five of the UK's mental health organisations - Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Turning Point, Centre for Mental Health and the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network - have worked in partnership with the government to draw up plans.
To improve the health of employees and reduce unnecessary costs to businesses in lost productivity, the government suggests managers:
• Sign up to the Time to Change campaign to end mental health discrimination. By signing up to the £16m initiative, firms make a public commitment to employees, and get support from Time to Change in dealing with mental health issues at work.
• Get some ‘First Aid' training in mental health: Most companies have an employee trained in first aid. But mental ill health is the most prevalent cause of illness among people of working age.
• Call for help: the Health for Work Adviceline in England can be accessed on 0800 0 77 88 44 and www.health4work.nhs.uk.
BT has reported its mental wellbeing strategy has led to a reduction of 30% in mental health-related sickness absence, and a return to work rate of 75% for people absent for more than six months.
Speaking at a reception to launch the plans, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said: "Today I am calling on every employer large and small to do a mental health stock take.
"Too many people suffer in silence with mental health issues. Employers are well placed to recognise warning signs and signpost their staff to support.
"70 million working days are lost as a result of mental health issues every year, costing business £1000 every year for each employee. Managing mental health at work well can save around 30 per cent of these costs - businesses cannot afford not to take mental health seriously."
The Coalition said mental health must be treated as seriously as physical health, and has already enshrined this in law in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
Progress will be measured via a new Mental Health Dashboard. This will bring together the most relevant measures from the three Outcomes Frameworks and elsewhere, and map them against the aims of the Government's Mental Health Strategy.