In an alarming revelation, Mental Health UK has issued a stark warning about the United Kingdom’s trajectory towards becoming a “burnt-out nation”. This concerning trend is primarily attributed to the escalating mental health issues in the workforce, fuelled by workplace stress. The charity’s call for government intervention underscores the urgent need for enhanced support systems for employees.
A recent YouGov survey, encompassing 2,060 adults, of whom 1,132 are working individuals, revealed that over a third (35%) have encountered extreme workplace pressure in the past year. Disturbingly, 20% of these workers required time off due to stress-induced poor mental health. These figures paint a worrying picture of the current state of workplace wellbeing in the UK.
Brian Dow, Chief Executive of Mental Health UK, categorically states that the nation is on a rapid path to widespread occupational burnout, with an unsettling number of people taking leave due to stress-related mental health issues. Dow attributes this to a complex mix of factors, including changing public attitudes towards mental health at work, especially post-pandemic, and the added stressors from the cost-of-living crisis, pressures on public services, and global challenges like climate change and technological advancements.
The survey also unearthed that 35% of employees are hesitant to discuss stress and pressure with their superiors. Furthermore, 31% cited bullying and intimidation by colleagues as significant stress factors. Alarmingly, almost half of the workers (49%) reported that their employers lack a strategy to identify signs of chronic stress.
Highlighting the complexity of this issue, Brian Dow cautions that there is no universal solution. However, he emphasizes that failing to effectively comprehend and tackle these challenges poses a serious threat to the nation’s long-term health and success.
Sharing her personal ordeal, Deidre Bowen, the director of national programmes at Mental Health UK, speaks about her own experience with burnout. She underscores the importance of employers taking definitive actions to prevent such situations, as burnout can significantly harm an individual’s wellbeing.
The Government, responding to these concerns, stated its commitment to mental health, with an investment of £2.3 billion in mental health services and plans to introduce nearly 400,000 individuals to NHS Talking Therapies. Additionally, the Government highlighted its Back to Work Plan, aimed at assisting individuals, including those with long-term health conditions, in overcoming work-related barriers.
The Workers Union Says…
“In conclusion, the urgent need to address the escalating issue of workplace mental health is clear. With both the government and private sectors recognizing the integral link between work and mental health, the focus must now shift to implementing effective solutions. A collaborative effort is vital to prevent the UK from becoming a ‘burnt-out nation’ and to ensure the wellbeing and productivity of its workforce.”