mental health Mandy Kloppers

How attitudes to mental health are changing

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Two years after Covid-19 reached UK shores, the pandemic continues to shape the way we work. One year on from our Coping with Covid report,  1,500 people from across the UK were asked about their attitudes to workplace wellbeing and mental health.

The results reveal an average of 3.36 days off due to mental health per employee in 2021, up from 3.19 in 2020, at a cost to businesses of £12.7bn. And while workers feel their well-being is slightly better than a year ago, 44% find their mental health affects their productivity at least once a week.
For many, the pandemic has prompted a change in perspective, with 51% of workers saying their friends and family are their top priority for the coming months. The majority of workers (68%) think employers are more aware of mental health issues now, but with 73% of people worried about the cost of living, the post-pandemic world looks set to present new challenges for workplace wellbeing.

Key findings

mental health statistics

Has the stigma around mental health reduced?

mental health stigma

Comparing two years of pandemic mental health

Although many people feel their well-being is worse than before the pandemic, our research
suggests it’s slightly improved on this time last year. Workers report that their morale, mental
health, physical health and productivity are better than they were in 2020. All four measures have
seen around a 10% improvement in the past year, but over a quarter (26%) of employees still say
their mental health at work is ‘not good’ or ‘not good at all’.

mental health

Mental health and productivity

While the stigma may be lifting, mental health is still a barrier to productivity for many workers. Almost half (44%) of people say their mental health affects their productivity at least once a week, signalling a disconnect between employers’ attitudes and their
actions.

Two-thirds of mental health absences are longer than five days Almost a third (31%) of employees say they’ve taken time off work due to mental health in the past year. Of those, two-thirds (66%) were absent for more than five days, suggesting that employers
may be struggling to spot the signs of poor mental health before the problem escalates.

Financial worries heighten stress and anxiety

As inflation hits a 30-year high and prices continue to rise, the Bank of England predicts the biggest financial squeeze in over 30 years. And with National Insurance rates and the energy price cap increasing from April, financial uncertainty looks set to trouble
many households throughout the year.
Across the UK, 50% of people say things are ‘really difficult’ financially at the moment and 54% feel they’d struggle to deal with an unexpected bill. And with inflation predicted to rise further in the spring, this ongoing worry presents a real mental health concern as people try to keep up with rising costs.

mental health

Post-pandemic priorities and expectations

After a period of constant uncertainty, it’s not surprising that work might take a back seat for many, and people prioritise time spent with their family and friends. More than half the workforce (52%) plan to focus their energy on their loved ones in the coming months, while almost a fifth of UK workers (19%) say they’re going to look for a new job.
Over the course of the pandemic, the world of work has been transformed. With an increase in hybrid working options and a renewed focus on workplace health and safety, employees are expecting permanent changes to the way they work. For many, the
past two years have revealed new perspectives, so what are employees hoping to focus on in 2022?

After a period of constant uncertainty, it’s not surprising that work might take a back seat for many, and people prioritise time spent with their family and friends. More than half the workforce (52%) plan to focus their energy on their loved ones in the coming months, while almost a fifth of UK workers (19%) say they’re going to look for a new job.

Employee expectations differ by company size

Those who work for larger organisations (over 250 employees) are the most likely to be looking to change their schedule, with almost a quarter (23%) saying adjusting their working pattern is a priority for them.
Larger businesses may also see an increased demand for well-being initiatives, with a third (33%) of employees in this
category saying they’d like more support compared to just 19% of those in small businesses (under 50 employees).

Creating a supportive workplace culture

While these trends can give leaders a head start, it is workplace culture that shapes employee attitudes to wellbeing, and each organisation will face its own unique challenges as we emerge from the pandemic.
The first step to improving this culture is to speak to employees and encourage open discussions about well-being, including mental
health, to understand their needs and expectations.

Above info courtesy of: https://www.westfieldhealth.com/

Resources and links for  financial support

As an employer, it’s often not possible to offer financial advice, but you can share a list of useful resources via email or your intranet to ensure employees have access to professional support.
Mind.org.uk
Exploring the link between money and mental health.
Citizens Advice
Help with understanding debt and money. NHS — Coping with financial worries Practical advice to manage financial stress.
Stepchange
Expert debt advice and fee-free debt management.

 

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.

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