Posted February 16, 2018 11:21:14A new survey from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSOC) has found that nearly one in five British workers suffer some form of mental health problem.
The report, published by the research body on Friday, also found that, in the last 12 months, the number of mental disorders rose by 30 per cent.
The survey found that of those who said they had experienced a mental health issue at work, almost half had experienced depression.
More than half of those surveyed said they suffered from depression and anxiety at work.
The RSC’s executive director for health, Prof Sir Paul Nurse, said: “A lot of the research shows that mental health issues in the workforce are a major concern for many people and it is really important that we understand how mental health affects people across the workforce.”
The survey reveals that one in three workers has experienced a serious mental health condition at work.
“Prof Nurse said that mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance use were more common among younger people than they were among older workers.”
There’s a big gap between those aged over 40 and those over 65, and people who are older than 40 are more likely to experience mental health problems than those in their 50s and 60s,” he said.”
These older workers may be working longer hours, and more strenuous jobs, but there’s a real gap between the demands of these jobs and the mental health needs of their workers.
For more than two decades, the RSC has been working with the National Mental Health Foundation to study workplace mental health.
“In the last year alone, we have identified over 1,000 mental health organisations across the UK, and we’ve been able to provide access to research and information for people to help them to improve their mental health,” said Prof Nurse.
He added that there was a growing body of research linking mental health to productivity and profitability, with employers taking action to improve mental health within their organisations.
The latest research also found a strong link between mental health and productivity, with employees being less productive and having lower morale.
“This is not necessarily a bad thing.
For employers, it’s just a bit of good news,” said Dr Lisa Williams, a senior lecturer at the University of Essex and co-author of the report.”
It’s a sign that they’re taking these issues seriously and are taking some proactive steps, such as working with staff to develop policies around mental health, and setting up support groups for workers who have mental health concerns.”
Prof Williams also highlighted the need for greater recognition of the needs of women, particularly mental health workers, and the need to support those with mental health conditions.
“Women are at particular risk of being at risk of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, so it is very important that women are also recognised as having the capacity to be a productive, creative and resilient workforce,” she said.
Dr Williams said the research findings also highlighted that the number and diversity of workplace mental disorders was not just limited to workers with mental illness.
“As well as mental health challenges for women, they are also more common amongst people of color, transgender people and people with disability,” she explained.
“They also exist across all social groups, and are particularly prevalent in young people, and women.”
The report is the first to look at the prevalence of mental illness in workplaces in the UK and its implications for workers and employers.
Prof Nurse noted that the report showed that there were significant barriers for women to get help for mental health in the workplace.
“What this report really tells us is that the majority of people who work in manufacturing or manufacturing engineering, or in manufacturing research or design, are women, and these are the types of jobs that need to be given priority,” he added.
“If we want to tackle mental health at work and protect workers and ensure they are well treated, then we need to recognise that mental illness is not just a female problem.”
We need to start treating mental health as a problem for all of us.