More than half of Britain’s working days lost in 2019/20 were due to mental ill-health, according to latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety was 828,000 workers last year, accounting for 17.9 million working days lost.
Workload, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work are thought to be the main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety based on Labour Force Survey data.
Speaking to IOSH magazine, Emily Pearson, founder and managing director of corporate mental health training consultancy Our Mind’s Work, said while the new stats are worrying, they’re not surprising.
Since the HSE started collecting data on work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2001 – two years after the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations came into force, which required employers to carry stress risk assessments and act upon them – there was a steady decrease until 2006 when it returned sharply to 2001 levels, where they remained with slight variation until 2015, explained Emily.
‘Despite numerous mental health awareness campaigns and programmes over the past five years, work-related stress has increased,’ she added. ‘So what’s gone wrong from 2010 to 2019 when the largest increase has occurred? Well, people feel more able categorise what they’re experiencing, self diagnose and share this information with others. So as the stigma reduces and awareness increases, this is only to be expected. But it doesn’t account for all of it.’
She believes the second problem is a lack of enforcement and a reluctance to put work-related stress in the same category as say, a broken leg.
“We cannot allow this to be ignored any longer – the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health are concerning enough without workplaces contributing to the mental health crisis we are sleep walking towards,’ adds Emily. ‘Employers must take ownership of the problem by implementing a robust strategy that provides evaluation of the problem areas and education, skills and training and the tools to deliver the solutions effectively, reducing work related stress before it turns into a psychological injury.’
Source – IOSH