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Dame Carol Black highlights the need to measure cognition to help tackle the mental health crisis in the workplace.

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Mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK with 1 in 6 of the working population currently suffering from a mental health condition. One of the most important but under-recognised dimensions of mental health is a person’s cognitive performance or ability to think.

Professor Dame Carol Black, the Government’s Expert Adviser on Health and Work highlighted the need to measure cognition at work during a recent visit to CANTAB Corporate Health, providers of the latest digital tools to measure cognitive health. 

‘Good cognitive health is so important for us to be able to work to our full potential, for example paying attention and making good decisions, particularly in safety-critical roles,” said Dame Carol. “We have so few measures for this aspect of health and I can see CANTAB tools as being particularly useful in identifying problems, many of which are reversible.  Mild mental ill-health is one of the most common reasons for workplace absence.  At the same time, measuring and managing cognition may enable working lives to be extended.” 

John Picken, Managing Director of CANTAB Corporate Health said, “Cognitive health or our ability to think clearly, concentrate, remember and make good decisions, underpins our mental wellbeing and mental performance. Cognitive problems, which may be caused by stress, anxiety or depression, can be picked up early through scientifically validated and accurate tools such as CANTAB. This allows employers to better support their employees and improve outcomes for both.  The principles behind measuring physical health should also apply to mental health. The two are inextricably linked and we are just at the beginning of realising the enormous benefits of measuring cognitive health, no more so than in people of working age.”

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