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Mental Health at Work

22 February 2018

With at least one in four people experiencing some kind of mental health problem each year,1 is it time to take a closer look at the issue? When talking about work and stress, it seems almost impossible to have one without the other. Stress accounts for nearly half of work-related illness in the UK.1

What causes job stress?

The most common sources of work-related stress are2

  • Lack of support
  • Inability to cope with work demands
  • Lack of control
  • Discrimination and bullying
  • Unclear work roles
  • Poor communication

The repercussions of work-related stress

For the employee: Poor health. Stress not only makes existing health issues worse, but can also cause medical conditions such as heart disease and obesity in the long term.3

For the employer: Productivity and revenue loss. Mental ill health contributes to 70 million lost work days in the UK alone and costs the UK economy up to 100 billion GBP annually.4

WHAT Can you do?

Mental health is still considered taboo, not only socially but especially in the workplace. Nearly half of employees hide their mental health issues from their employer5 and many employees face discrimination, harassment, and even bullying.6

Training can be a good way to de-stigmatise mental ill health by increasing awareness, endorsing mental self-care, and teaching managers how to identify mental health problems and provide support to their colleagues.7

However, reducing stress itself can be more effective than just stress management. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Ensure managers are aware of staff workloads and holidays
  • Offer self-help workshops
  • On-site counselling
  • Adopt an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

Investing in your employees is a two-way street: when staff feel cared for and appreciated they'll “invest” in the company in the form of commitment and motivation.4




1. Mental Health Foundation. Managing mental health in the workplace, UNUM. May 2016. Accessed 29 November 2017.
2. Health and Safety Executive. Work related stress, anxiety and depression statistics in Great Britain 2016. 2016. Accessed 29 November 2017.
3. Health and Safety Executive. Causes of stress at work. Accessed 29 November 2017.
4. American Psychological Association. Understanding chronic stress. Accessed 29 November 2017.
5. Mental Health Foundation. Managing mental health in the workplace, UNUM. May 2016. Accessed 29 November 2017.
6. UNUM. Mental health and the workplace. October 2017. Accessed 29 November 2017.
7. Time to Change. I can stand my mental illnesses at work, but not the discrimination. December 2016. Accessed 29 November 2017.
8. UNUM. How to support employees. October 2017. Accessed 29 November 2017.