Research compiled by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) has found that two thirds of Britons are anxious about the week ahead – a phenomenon known as the “Sunday scaries”.
Those affected cite stress at work, sleep deprivation and to-do lists as the main drivers of anxiety. Young adults in the 18-24 age range are most affected, with 74 percent experiencing heightened worries as the weekend comes to an end.
The OHID was set up in 2021 with the aim of improving health inequalities across the country. In response to its latest findings, the unit is urging the public to visit the Every Mind Matters website and be ‘kind to your mind’. Once there visitors will be asked to answer five short questions before they are signposted to personalised ‘Mind Plans’ providing tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Thérèse Coffey, said:
‘My focus is on making sure people can get the care they need, when they need it – and that includes for their mental wellbeing.
‘The Every Mind Matters tool is a great way to build your mental resilience and help ward off the anxiety many of us feel on a Sunday.’
The government’s latest mental health drive comes after data from internet giants Google revealed that searches for “sadness” spike at 5pm on a Sunday when people turn to the internet for advice. Meanwhile, searches for “trouble sleeping” peak on a Monday, reflecting problems with rest and relaxation once the working week begins.
The campaign comes at a time of turbulence in mental health care provision across the UK. In September, the British Medical Association reported that mental health waiting lists are now 1.4 million strong, with bed shortages and vacancies for mental health specialists blamed for the backlog.
The Workers Union Says…
Like many things in life, the weekends appear to be getting shorter. Those plans to kick back and relax, to take the kids out, to put a shelf put up. They made a lovely sound as they wooshed by. But suddenly Sunday is charging into Monday, and there‘ s no time to do anything but prepare to go back to work.
That’s the story for many working people. Laptops, phones and tablets may have revolutionised the way that we do business, but they have also led to “weekend bleed” where the boss can ping a meeting request or a supplier on the other side of the world can ask for clarification at any time of the day – or night.
In such circumstances it is hardly surprising that so many people are anxious about the week ahead. In some respects their weekend was nothing more than a way of moving around familiar things to block the view of what awaits them when Monday ticks round. There is no “end” in this week – merely another cycle of the stress treadmill.
On the one hand, the government must take some credit for recognising this growing problem and taking steps to try and deal with it. But how far can the state be made to take responsibility for the actions of private enterprise?
Company chiefs must step up and do more to tackle workers’ mental health issues. They must move to stop 7-day a week working and limit the amount of exposure workers have to work-related issues at the weekend.
Workers give so much to their employers through their commitment, labour and skill. It is high time they were seen as people, not just units of labour.