If one in five of us had caught flu last winter, we would have rightly called it an epidemic. With around the same share of the labour force suffering from work related stress, according to official figures, it's time to start acknowledging that mental health at work - of which stress is a part - deserves epidemic-scale treatment.
It's not always seen as a credible reason to be off work, the symptoms vary, colleagues aren't always sympathetic, and GPs don't give consistent advice - and that's just flu.
The parallels with mental health problems are uncomfortable, as new research for the Department of Health, to be published later in the year, shows. On mental health too, it emerges, there can be a damaging mismatch between the employee and employer view of the situation, along with altogether more serious problems of discrimination and inconsistency in the way the problem is handled, inside and outside the organisation.
The scale of the problem is breathtaking. Around 80 million work days are lost annually due to mental health problems, at an annual cost of roughly £3.7bn. Seven out of 10 people with mental health problems have been put off applying for jobs for fear of unfair treatment; one in three believe they've been dismissed or forced to resign because of discrimination.
Yet few appear to disagree that mental health discrimination wrecks lives, taints organisations that permit it, wastes human potential on a colossal scale, and costs businesses in lost production.
Factors like these have led to the Department of Health's new "Mind Out for Mental Health" campaign. With the aid of new research, site visits, a management toolkit, a website and other initiatives, the campaign about to target your workplace will try to spread the message that mental health discrimination is unlawful and unacceptable, show how to improve opportunities for those with mental health problems, and generally end the fear and stigma at work about this issue.
Research carried out by the Industrial Society for the campaign shows just how far we have to go. The findings will be discussed at a conference on 19 June, but they already reveal alarming levels of ignorance. Managers and employees freely admit to a lack of understanding and awareness, which in t