Mental Health Stress, anxiety and depression were the cause of half of all work-related illnesses in the last year, according to new research.

More than 800,000 people experienced work-related stress, anxiety or depression in 2020-21, a new report from the Health and Safety Executive (Health and safety statistics 2021 (hse.gov.uk)), has revealed, with 451,000 of those being newly reported this year.

Women aged 25 to 34 were most likely to report work-related stress, anxiety or depression, while rates were higher than average among those working in the public admin and defence, health and social care and education sectors, according to self-reported data from the Labour Force Survey cited by the report.

In recent years, reported causes for work-related stress, depression, or anxiety included rising workloads, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying, and changes at work. However, the report stated that the Covid-19 pandemic was a significant contributor to poor mental health among workers over the last year.

Sarah Albon, HSE’s chief executive, said: “The 12-month period in question coincides with the first national lockdown and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. There have been significant impacts on the labour market, which is reflected in our reporting.

“The latest figures on work-related stress reinforce our previous concerns around the scale of this issue in workplaces.”

Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said the findings were worrying but not surprising. “The last two years have put people’s mental health under unprecedented pressure. Many people have experienced anxiety, trauma and loss as a result of the pandemic, and economic uncertainty is an added pressure for many more,” Bell said.

“Employers can help to provide people with safe working conditions, in workplaces that are open about mental health and where help is at hand when it’s needed.”

The research follows additional analysis by Glassdoor in October 2021, which found employee burnout has doubled since the end of lockdown, while a poll by Reassured found that over a third of UK workers are more stressed since the easing lockdown measures.

Lee Sharp, Director of Mental Health at K2 Associates, said there were ways for both employers and staff to support mental wellbeing at work.

“Whether people are working from home or back in the office, employers can proactively support staff by encouraging two-way conversations about health and wellbeing, as well as support their line managers with the skills to recognise the signs and have conversations with staff who are struggling.

“Employees can also look after their own mental health by being open and honest with their line managers about their difficulties and taking steps to support their own wellbeing including putting in work boundaries, making time for activities they enjoy and keeping active.”

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