Are Mental Health issues underdiagnosed in society which impact the workplace?


Are Mental Health issues underdiagnosed in society which impact the workplace?

Mental health is core to everything we do at work. Protecting it will take all of us, so no matter what level you are in your company, if you’re passionate about mental health, be persistent.

Mental health issues are often brushed under the table as ‘not real’ due to stigma, however, the very real repercussions of poor emotional wellbeing are underestimated. Research shows that employees are more likely to experience mental illness than develop other health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. In an article by Spill, a company that hosts an online therapy support portal for employers to purchase for their staff, called 53 workplace mental health statistics you can’t ignore in 2024, some of the statistics they reported included:

  • Around 828,000 employees suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety every year.
  • 17% of employees will struggle with a diagnosed mental health condition this year. They’ll be in emotional pain, and might not be able to work or function.
  • A further 38% of employees without a mental health condition will be feeling unmotivated, flat, burnt out, anxious or low. This middle ground is known as languishing, and it’s surprisingly common.
  • 89% of employees with mental health issues say it impacts their working life. More than half of these have considered resigning from a job because it negatively impacted their mental wellbeing.
  • Poor mental health is the main cause of sickness absences in the UK. Around 50% of long-term sick leave is due to stress, depression and anxiety.
  • Around 300,000 people with mental health issues lose their jobs each year. This is higher than people who lose their jobs due to physical health ailments.
  • 55% of people who experience depression say that work is a contributing factor.
  • 79% of UK employees feel close to burnout (this rises to 82% in the tech industry).
  • Over a quarter of employees say they can’t switch off and relax in their personal time, hinting at increasingly blurred work-life boundaries since the pandemic.
  • 51% of London-based employees work on the weekends. This is 11% higher than the national average of
  • Loneliness and declining mental health are strongly linked. UK levels of loneliness rose during the pandemic, especially for people already struggling with their mental health. By the third lockdown, 40% of people with pre-existing mental health diagnoses reported feeling lonely compared to 26% of the general UK population

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that there was an estimated 35.2 million days lost to work related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2022/2023 of which 17.1 million were due to stress, depression or anxiety. On average each person suffering from stress, depression or anxiety took 19.6 days off.

The world has transformed massively in recent years with social and technological changes alongside global events such as the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. The modern ways of life have drastically affected work-life balance and stressors in life, causing many to experience burnout. Mental Health UK conducted polling of 2,060 working adults in the UK, capturing the public’s perceptions of burnout and the contributing factors in their Burnout Report 2024.

What is Burnout? According to the Mental Health UK’s – The Burnout Report 2024, Burnout is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an occupational phenomenon and defined as follows:

‘Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’.

It is characterised by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Common signs of burnout:

  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
  • Feeling detached/alone in the world
  • Having a cynical/negative outlook
  • Self-doubt
  • Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
  • Feeling overwhelmed

The Burnout Report reveals how we are becoming a burnt-out nation. With 9 in 10 adults in the UK experiencing high or extreme stress in the past year and 1 in 5 needing to take time off work due to poor mental health caused by pressure or stress.

For many the way we worked changed during the pandemic – most obviously through the rise in ‘home’ or ‘hybrid’ working and the digitising of workflows and relationships. Today, half of UK workers polled (50%) work from a fixed location such as an office, while just over a quarter (26%) have a ‘hybrid’ or ‘agile’ working arrangement, with 12% working from home, and 9% based away from home but at various locations.

Mental Health Foundation England report that Post-pandemic changes in working patterns and increased financial uncertainty are negatively impacting employee mental health in and outside of work. Their recent report found that almost half of UK workers are ‘running on empty,’ with burnout, mental ill health, and work-related stress now costing the economy £28 billion annually. The report provides statistics on mental health statistics published in September 2023:

  • Poor mental health accounts for more than half of all work-related illnesses. Around 51% of long-term sick leave is due to stress, depression, or anxiety .
  • Employees are reporting increased workplace intensity and more significant pressure at work:
    • 55% of workers feel that work is getting more intense and demanding.
    • 61% of workers say they feel exhausted at the end of most working days
  • 70% of managers cited organisational barriers to supporting staff wellbeing, including company policy, heavy workload, unsupportive workplace culture, and not being equipped with the right skills.
  • One in five UK workers reported feeling unable to manage stress and pressure in the workplace .
  • A third of managers feel out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns.
  • 9% of professionals are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
  • A third of managers feel out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns.
  • 29% of managers said more support and training from their employer would help them support other team members.
  • Only 10% of employees are currently seeking support for their mental health.
  • Champion Health found that productivity was linked to employees feeling part of a team.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Health and Wellbeing Report advise that over three-quarters of respondents (78%), regardless of sector or size, report their organisation is taking steps to identify and/or reduce stress in the workplace. The vast majority of organisations are making efforts to support employee mental health at work. Three-quarters of organisations (75%) are using (Employee Assistance Programmes) EAPs and two-thirds (66%) train people in mental health first aid.

The report shows that both approaches, but particularly the use of mental health first-aiders, has increased over the last few years. More organisations are also providing access to counselling services and promoting flexible working options compared with pre-pandemic years. There has been less change in the proportion of organisations that are training managers to support staff with mental ill health. This is something that GEM Partnership can support your organisation with, as we can deliver training in Level 2 Award in Introduction to Mental Health Awareness, Level 2 Award in Introduction to First Aid in Mental Health and Level 3 Award in Understanding Mental Health in the Workplace for Managers;

Promoting a healthy workplace has considerable benefits for employers and can lead to decreased absenteeism, increased productivity and improved performance. It can also enhance an organisation’s reputation and standing with staff, stakeholders and the wider community. The Better Health at Work Awards is an award scheme that is open to all employers in the North East and Cumbria and recognises how employers address health issues within the workplace. There are 5 levels to the award with all employers starting off at Bronze level and working their way through Silver, Gold, Continuing Excellence and Maintaining Excellence awards, with the support of workplace Health Improvement Specialist along with mentoring from other organisations who have already completed that level. This supports organisations to embed good practices around health and wellbeing at all levels of the organisation.

GEM Partnership are currently in their 5th year of the award process after being awarded the Continuing Excellence award at the recent Awards Celebration event at the Radisson Blu in Durham, hosted by The Pioneering Care Partnership and are now working towards Maintaining Excellence Award. GEM Partnerships Operations Manager Kelly Lee said

“ Investing in our workforces health and wellbeing is very important to us, our staff are the heart of our organisation, so keeping them fit and well is our main priority. The award has supported us in creating a positive work environment and culture. Our wellbeing initiatives include fruity Fridays, healthy food station, dedicated resources on our App and we have increased our network of Mental Health First Aiders across the business. We have reaped the rewards from improved performance, low sickness levels and a happy workforce, whilst raising money for our chosen charity, Hub of Wishes based in Newton Aycliffe.”


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