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The link between work and good mind health

Three happy employees having a discussion

Poor mind health in the workplace cost the UK economy £102bn in 2023, according to new research.

This includes workers taking sick days or being less productive due to mental health conditions, as well as staff turnover and unemployment when workers choose to leave their jobs altogether.

The study by AXA UK found that over half (53%) of people in the UK have an absence of positive wellbeing associated with emotional distress.

Workplace environment is a significant contributory factor to mind health, with three quarters of UK adults having trouble sleeping or suffering from stress, lack of confidence or loss of interest due to work.

Mental health employee benefits

AXA's fourth annual Mind Health Study surveyed 16,000 people aged 18-74 from 16 countries, including 1,000 people in the UK. It revealed that those in the UK are more likely to be struggling with their mind health compared to any other country surveyed, apart from Japan.

One in three have a mental health condition, with anxiety disorders (24%) and depression (22%) the most common. And while 24% of the global population claim to be flourishing, this figure drops to 18% in the UK.

"In the UK we are seeing a growing number of people battling with poor mind health and, as people spend a large proportion of their lives working, a supportive workplace environment plays a critical role in addressing this," said Tara Foley, CEO of AXA UK & Ireland.

Notably, those who believe their company cares for the mental health of its employees and is taking action to help them are almost twice as likely to have flourishing mind health. Mental health benefits are valued most by young workers, with 72% of 18-24-year-olds stating that mental health employee benefits are important when it comes to deciding whether to stay with their current employer.

Access to professional healthcare services

"A 20-year-old today has lived their formative years not only in a global pandemic but also in a time of geopolitical instability, a cost of living crisis, job insecurity as well as growing concerns about climate change," commented Dr Alex George, Youth Mental Health Ambassador and former NHS doctor.

"If living through lockdowns wasn't difficult enough, there have also been huge changes in technology, social media and cultural norms.

"It's little surprise that many 18-to-34-year-olds feel extremely anxious, stressed and alone. The message from the Mind Health Study is that more young people need to be able to access professional healthcare services that can help protect their mental wellbeing at such an important period of their lives."

Impact on overall mental health

Karl Bennett, chair of EAPA UK, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, highlighted why work is such an important factor when it comes to people's overall mental wellbeing:

"For the majority of people's lives, work plays a pivotal role in their mental health, providing financial rewards and a foundation to their sense of stability and security, as well as lots of other important benefits: a social network, friendship, feelings of belonging, of purpose and challenge.

"So when things are difficult at work, for whatever reason, there is a real impact on overall mental health and how people feel when it comes to coping with other issues around their health, finances and relationships."

Bennett added that 'good' workplaces -- where employers are conscious of how work demands and workplace culture affect people's state of mind, and provide different forms of advice and support when needed -- are "critical for the mental health of the entire nation".

Posted by Fidelius on April 22nd 2024

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