Mental Health in the Workplace; the Statistics.

Each year the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publish statistics on work-related stress, depression or anxiety in Great Britain; having looked at the reports from the last three years, the reading is not good, and it seems as though companies are still not taking this subject seriously.

Here are some of the main summary statistics from the HSE reports for the last few years:

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety….

440,000

488,000

526,000

….a prevalence rate of (per 100,000 workers)

1380

1510

1610

Number of new cases….

234,000

224,00

236,000

….an incidence rate of (per 100,000 workers)

740

690

720

Total number of working days lost due to this condition (million days)….

9.9

11.7

12.5

….an average of (days lost per case)

23

23.9

23.8

Where stress accounted for of all work related ill health cases (%)

35

37

40

Where stress accounted for working days lost due to ill health (%)

43

45

49

Each year the reports conclude that people working in public service industries (such as healthcare workers, teaching professionals, business, media and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.

They also state that the main work factors that cause work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.Stress, depression or anxiety by causeSo, why are things not improving?

Over the last couple of years mental health in the workplace has been highlighted by organisations such as Mind and Heads Together; as this focus is relatively new, it will take time for the work they are doing to show results.

I think that the main problem is that the mentality of those running businesses needs to change; there is too much focus on money and profit.  Companies will do whatever they can to make money and this usually includes cutting corners; one of the main corner cutting exercises that I have witnessed is the practice of overloading employees with too much work.

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers.  It’s that simple.” Richard Branson

It is not just the workload that is a problem, companies expect their employees to give a high level of service whilst working under immense pressure.

Companies expect their employees to ‘Exceed Expectations’, but when are companies going to exceed their employees expectations in the way they look after their health and well-being?

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Let me give you a small example of what happened to me:

When I had my first panic attack at work I locked myself in the disabled toilet.  I told my manager where I was and what was going on, but he never came to check on me and make sure I was OK.  My panic attack lasted for around an hour.

The same thing happened during my second panic attack at work.

On the first occasion, my wife called my manager and specifically asked him to check on me because she was seriously concerned about my well-being; my manager told her he had checked on me even though he hadn’t……

I know how bad things can be, but I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I know that there must be companies out there that are taking this subject seriously, so I want to find them and highlight the work they are doing and see what the effect is on their business.

My hope is that by showing the benefits of taking health and well-being seriously, the companies that do not care will see what they are missing out on.

I want to hear from you if:

  • You run a company and have outstanding mental health policies and procedures that are actively working.
  • You can show the results; have these policies and procedures benefited your business?
  • As an employee, you have a story to share where your company went above and beyond to help you through a mental health issue.

It isn’t difficult to understand; a happy workforce will benefit your business.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many days does my business lose due to ill health?
  • What is the cost of these lost days?
  • If our employees were happy and stayed, how much would we save on recruitment costs?
  • How happy are our employees?
  • How often do we think about our employee’s health?

Let’s keep pushing for better health and well-being in the workplace; surely it’s worth it?

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

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