Work-Related Mental Health Issues Now Account For Over Half Of Work Absences

In Business, Industry News, Protection by Stephen Ellis

There has been a surge in the number of working days lost to work-related mental health issues, new figures reveal.

In 2017/2018, the number of working days lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression reached 15.4 million, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s latest annual injury and ill health statistics for Great Britain. That’s an increase of around three million days over the previous year, when the number of days lost was 12.4 million.

In fact, work-related mental health problems now account for more than half (57.3%) of all working days lost in Great Britain.

The total number of cases of work-related stress, anxiety or depression in 2017/2018 was 595,000 – equivalent to 1,800 workers per 100,000. This represents an increase of nearly 70,000 cases over 2016/2017.

In terms of the industries most impacted by work-related mental health issues, it is the public service sector that is leading the field when it comes to prevalence. Workers in the education industry are the most at risk, with 2,100 new and long-standing mental health cases per 100,000 employees in the last 12 months.

Social workers are the next most at risk group (2,080 cases per 100,000 workers), while public administration and defence workers come in third (1,960 cases per 100,000 workers).

More Still Needs To Be Done

Despite a new 24-hour mental health hotline being announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond as part of his 2018 Autumn Budget, employers are being urged to do more to support the mental health of their employees.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Work-related stress is a growing epidemic, it’s time employers and the Government took it more seriously.”

Warm words are not going to fix this problem, managers need to do far more to reduce the causes of stress and support employees struggling to cope. This means tackling issues like excessive workloads and bullying in the office, toxic workplaces are bad for staff and productivity.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that mental health issues still have a stigma attached to them, which means they do not get discussed as often as they should. Furthermore, many employees do not reach out for help when they are feeling under pressure at work for fear of being viewed in a negative light by both their line managers and colleagues.

Employers need to remove the stigma associated with mental health conditions and get conversations about them started in the workplace. Doing so will not only improve the outcomes for employees suffering from these kinds of illnesses, but also increase productivity and reduce the number of days lost each year to such conditions.

In other words, starting the conversation about mental health in the workplace is win-win for everyone.

Interested in learning more about how occupational health services can potentially help your business and its employees? Contact us today to find out how we can tailor a package to suit your specific needs, as well as receive a FREE no obligation quote.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.