Badly managed workplace stress costs Britain billions, Mind reveals in new report
Posted Sunday 15 May 2005
Stress costs 10 per cent of the UK's Gross National Product - yet fewer than 10 per cent of companies have official policy to tackle it.
The days became a blur of commuting, working frantically hard, getting home in great pain from my back, eating a microwave meal and then crashing out for an hour before bed - only to start again the next morning.
Actuary, Female White British
In a new report launched today at the start of Mind week, Mind calls upon employers to act now to address the ever-rising stress levels at work, now costing 10 per cent of the UK's Gross National Product. An astounding 12.8 million working days a year are now lost to work-related stress alone, with 58 per cent of workers complaining of job stress - rising to 45 million days lost to general stress and anxiety conditions, of which work stress is likely to play a part.
The report Stress and mental health in the workplace reveals that fewer than one in ten companies have an official policy on mental health although 98 per cent of respondents to a CBI survey felt that mental health should be a company concern. It shows that workplace stress can create mental ill health, or act as a trigger for existing mental health problems, which otherwise might have been successfully managed.
Economically, it makes more sense for organisations to support current employees than to recruit and train new ones, who, without proper systems in place, may well also become stressed.
Sources of stress in the workplace include poor working conditions, long hours, relationships at work, lack of job security, travel, organisational structure and climate, and generally a mismatch between job requirements and the individual's capabilities, resources or needs.
Recommendations for employers, in addition to introduction of official mental health in the workplace policies, include flexi-time, working from home, stress coaching, on the job support, keeping jobs open during sick leave, provision of quiet rooms, exercise provision, training programmes and social activities.
The report highlights good practice examples from companies including Abbey and initiatives offered by local Mind associations to support people at work and assist people in returning to work.
Speaking today Mind's Chief Executive Richard Brook said:
"Clearly employers cannot afford to ignore the issues arising from the ever-increasing levels of occupational stress, and the 'long-hour culture' of working Britain today. We urge for more understanding and openness of stress and mental health problems in the workplace - today's competitive and pressured work environments can make it very difficult for people to disclose mental health or work stress problems without the fear of affecting their career prospects.
"For us all, there is a responsibility to tackle the widespread stigma concerning mental health, led by the Government. With mental health problems now accounting for the highest number of Incapacity Benefit claims, we also look to the Government to develop an effective system to support those with mental health problems returning to work - the current Pathways to Work pilots raises grave concerns in this area."