Report calls for national summit on mental health at work

A new report from Mental Health UK shows 20% of workers have had to take time off work due to stress and burnout.

Stressed women at laptop


Nine out of 10 adults in the UK experienced high or extreme levels of stress last year and 20% of workers needed to take time off work due to poor mental health caused by pressure or stress, according to a new report.

The Burnout Report by Mental Health UK shows 35% of those surveyed for the report face high or extreme levels of stress at work and nearly half say their employer does not have a plan to identify and support people who are dealing with chronic stress.

The organisation says that, while burnout and stress are not mental health conditions and stress in moderation can be helpful,  severe stress poses a threat to both physical and mental health. It adds that stress is not confined to the workplace and can be exacerbated by debt, fear of losing their home or livelihood, pressures around parenting, ill health and worries about the future.

The study finds that people working in an agile fashion are less likely to cite their working arrangement as a factor contributing to their burnout and it says that, while the pressure to move back to the office may be valid, it should be done with proper support. And it says negotiations around adjustments need to be a two-way street.

Brian Dow, Chief Executive of Mental Health UK, says: “With global challenges around issues such as climate change, artificial intelligence, population change and migration economies around the world will need to make seismic shifts to prepare for their impacts and the prospect of these factors together is for many people, young and old, a potent cause of anxiety.  The sense of the problems being just too big to handle is naturally another key factor in burnout and, in so far as any of us are able to make sense of these, an honest conversation about how we adjust is as relevant in the workplace as it is in wider society.”

Mental Health UK is calling on the Prime Minister to convene a national summit, bringing together government ministers, employers and experts to determine how we can create healthy workplaces and best support people to stay in or return to work if they’re struggling with stress and poor mental health.

Meanwhile, research by the IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity shows escalating levels of illness and health-related economic inactivity in the UK are exacerbating inequality and posing a significant fiscal threat. The study reveals that one in four working-age Britons without a job reside in just 50 local authorities. Individuals living in deprived areas are one and a half times more likely to experience economic inactivity and twice as likely to be in poor health.

And a study by researchers at UCL finds financial worries can have a significant impact on biological health. The study found that interactions between the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems were worse in individuals experiencing financial strain and other stressful experiences. The paper’s lead author, a PhD candidate, Odessa Hamilton, said: “When the immune and neuroendocrine systems function well together, homeostasis is maintained and health is preserved. But chronic stress can disrupt this biological exchange and lead to disease.”

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