Work and Wellbeing · 24 September 2018

A majority of UK employees are stressed – but why are they suffering in silence?

Workplace stress
Employers have been advised to take a proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace

Over half of British workers say they suffer from stress, but most will never tell their boss how they are feeling, research has uncovered.

A new report by health and wellbeing provider BHSF found that 56% of employees admitted to suffering from stress, a third from anxiety and a quarter from depression.

Each employee takes an average 8.4 days off for mental health problems a year, the study found.

A concerning 42% of workers call in sick claiming a physical illness, when in reality they are suffering from a mental health issue, with just 15% declaring that they would ever tell their boss about their problems.

“The scale of this problem is huge, and it is being massively underestimated by employers with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing,” said Dr Philip McCrea, chief medical officer at BHSF.

“Although shocking, these findings don’t surprise me – this report must provide a reality check for employers, who need to be more proactive and focus on early intervention. A more open culture must be created in workplaces across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

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The new research also highlighted the need for more workplace mental health support with only 21% of employees currently receiving this.

McCrea added: “Mental health problems do not suddenly materialise. The vast majority of individuals suffering from poor mental health will show obvious signs, which are easy to spot in the workplace. Line managers, or nominated individuals, should be trained to spot the first signs.”

Intervention strategies

McCrea said employers need to develop critical early intervention strategies including the provision of mental health first-aiders, providing adequate mental health training for managers, and resilience building for employees.

“Mental health is currently costing the UK economy billions, and the cost of non-intervention is far greater than the cost of intervention,” he added. “It’s up to employers to take a proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace before it’s too late.”

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