HR Magazine – UK loses 17 million working days to stress, depression and anxiety

The UK lost 17 million working days due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the year 2021-2022, according to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

An estimated 914,000 workers suffered from work-related mental illness, accounting for half (51%) of all cases of work-related illness (1.8 million) in the year.


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Nick Wilson, WorkNest’s director of health and safety services, said it’s up to employers to ease this tension.

Talking to HR magazine, he said: “Losing 17 million workdays to stress, depression or anxiety is substantially concerning, but emphasizes that this must remain a key area of ​​focus for employers, not just for the sake of their employees, but also for business productivity as well.”

Of the 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, 372,000 were new for 2021 to 2022.

Wilson added, “A collaborative approach between HR and health and safety professionals is needed to address this issue, otherwise we will likely see an increase over the next 12 months.”

The current rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety is higher than pre-coronavirus levels in 2018 to 2019.

Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in England, said the increase was not surprising.

Talking to HR magazine, he said: “The impact of the pandemic has been difficult for all of us and the intensification of the cost of living crisis will only serve to exacerbate these tensions.

“That said, one silver lining of the pandemic is that we’ve started to talk more freely about our mental health and support each other.

“As a nation, we are on a journey to develop our understanding of mental health. We must use this understanding to create healthier workplaces and communities, so we too can seek and signal mental health support when we need it.”

For 2021, workload pressures were revealed to be the top cause of reported stress, depression and anxiety.

Jamie Styles, director of people and culture at Koa Health, warned of increased workloads in the current climate.

“Workplace cultures can suffer from increased workloads, especially when organizations have had to react to external factors such as global economic changes and staff turnover due to the Great Resignation. As a result, annual leave may be perceived as less of a priority, but this is a short-term solution that causes problems in the long run.

“HR must ensure that all employees also take breaks throughout the day; for example, allocating time for micro-breaks (even a few minutes) at regular intervals.”

Taking annual leave is often a cultural issue, Styles said, so it’s important that a healthy work-life balance is modeled from the top.

He added: “While encouraging employees to take annual leave is a simple step to ensure more people don’t suffer from work-related illnesses, to truly address the current mental health crisis, companies need to provide employees with a set of solutions. comprehensive guidelines that cover the entire spectrum of conditions.

“This should include digital mental health tools, which employees can access 24 hours a day.”

After stress, depression or anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders were the second most common work-related health problem, with 477,000 people suffering from them in 2021 to 2022.

Estimates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and musculoskeletal disorders are based on self-reports from the UK Labor Force Survey (LFS).

HR Magazine – UK loses 17 million working days to stress, depression and anxiety

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