World Mental Health Day: 42.5% of employees suffer from anxiety

On a day when the focus is on global mental health, a new study reveals an epidemic of anxiety is plaguing the UK workforce.

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Over 42% of employees say they suffer from anxiety, according to new research published on World Mental Health Day (October 10).

The findings by employee mental wellbeing provider Ifeel also reveal that 40% of people starting a therapeutic process to help their anxiety rate their symptoms as highly severe.

The report found that poor mental health has escalated in recent years, with employees not opening up about their mental wellbeing and actively seeking help. Ifeel’s research shows that 60% of employees understand the impact of their symptomatology – the patient’s perceived level of awareness – on their lives.

Poor mental wellbeing amongst staff has an impact on businesses, too. Organisations implementing mental wellbeing solutions equip employees with resources to identify and recognise their symptoms, encouraging greater awareness. 

According to Ifeel, once individuals identify a problem, they become receptive to finding solutions – but without support for their workplace, employees’ symptoms can worsen. This has a negative impact on the individual and businesses if the employee needs to take sick days or extended leave.

The report found other triggers for mental health problems included personal development (22.61%) and depression (8.98%).

How to support your employees

In July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that over five million people – or 12% – of the working-age population reported suffering from depression, bad nerves or anxiety. More than half of those were economically inactive because of long-term sickness.

The CIPD estimates that mental health problems cost the UK economy £117.9 billion annually – so not only is it important to support your staff for their personal wellbeing, but it is also beneficial to businesses.

So, how can you help your employees? The CIPD says many of the issues associated with poor mental health at work occur because undetected problems are left unchecked and worsen to a point that the individual goes into crisis. 

Clear communication and people management skills can help to prevent stress and poor mental health in employees. Research by mental health charity Mind found only 66% of employees say their manager supported their mental health – and 72% of those had experienced anxiety on multiple occasions in the past month. This is 28% more than those who felt their manager does support their mental health. 

Mental health may be a topic that’s difficult to bring up with employees, but it’s an important conversation that must be had as soon as you think there could be an issue. Here are some questions to open up the discussion:

  • How are you doing at the moment?
  • You seem to be a bit down at the moment. Is everything okay?
  • I’ve noticed you’ve been arriving late recently and I wondered if you’re okay?
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • What would you like to happen? How?
  • What support do you think might help?
  • Have you spoken to your GP or looked for help anywhere else?

For more tips on employee wellbeing and mental health support in the workplace, check out our comprehensive guide.

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Kirstie Pickering - business journalist

Kirstie is a freelance journalist writing in the tech, startup and business spaces for publications including Sifted, TNW, UKTN, The Business Magazine and Maddyness UK. She also works closely with agencies such as CEW Communications to develop content for their startup and scaleup clients.

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