Research by the Health and Safety Executive has found that 12.8 million working days were lost in 2018/19 due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. That equated to an average of 21.2 days lost per case.
Based on data taken from the Labour Force Survey, the research also found that the total number of cases in 2018/19 was 602,000, a prevalence rate of 1,800 workers in every 100,000.
However, some industries had a higher than average rates of stress, depression or anxiety. These included public administration and defence where it found a rate of 2,500 cases per 100,000 workers; human health and social work activities with a rate of 2,120 cases per 100,000 workers: followed by education with a rate of 1,940 cases per 100,000 workers.
In terms of occupational groups, the category of “Professional” had a statistically significantly higher rate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety than the rate for all occupations. For the three-year period averaged over 2016/17- 2018/19, the Professional occupations category had 2,150 cases per 100,000 people employed, compared with 1,380 cases for all occupational groups.
Women had statistically significantly higher rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety compared with the overall average for all workers. This was particularly the case for those in the age range from 25 to 54.
Compared with the rate across all workplaces sizes, small workplaces had a statistically significantly lower rate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety while large workplaces had statistically significantly higher rates. Medium enterprises were not significantly different from the rate across all workplaces.
The predominant cause of work-related stress, depression or anxiety was workload, in particular tight deadlines, too much work or too much pressure or responsibility. Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and role uncertainty, such as lack of clarity about the job or that the worker was uncertain about what they were meant to do.
Overall, the HSE estimated that work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44 per cent of work-related ill health and 54 per cent of working days lost in 2018/19. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the report concluded that work-related stress, depression or anxiety continues to represent a significant ill health condition in the workforce of Great Britain.
Neil Todd, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: "Mental health in the workplace is an issue the TUC have been campaigning on for many years. While the biggest single cause of workplace stress is workload, another key cause is insecurity. Those with a precarious relationship to the labour market such as shift workers and those on zero hours contracts are at higher risk of poor mental health. In order to tackle the problem a greater emphasis needs to be placed on quality of work rather than quantity of work by employers. Longer hours do not equate to increased productivity. In addition, affording workers greater security at work would be a significant step to improving general wellbeing in the workplace.
To read the report in full, go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf