NICE workplace guidance could banish recession blues
NICE guidance on mental wellbeing in the workplace could help to keep employees healthy, as latest figures reveal that the recession has left British workers stressed and depressed.
One in 10 workers reported suffering from stress and anxiety caused by the recession, according to a survey by the mental health charity Mind.
The charity is now calling for an end to mental health stigma at work, and is urging employers to promote a culture where employees can discuss stress and mental distress openly without fear of the consequences.
The survey of 2,050 workers found that the pressure of money worries has led to a rise in the number of employers seeking support and medical treatment from their GP.
A total of 7 per cent of workers were started on treatment for depression, while 5 per cent said that they had seen a counsellor.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive at Mind, said: “Considering how much time we spend at work, it is hardly surprising that it can have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing.
“It is more important than ever that businesses look at how they can manage stress levels and improve the working environment for all their employees.”
Investing in wellbeing doesn't have to be expensive, and businesses who look after their staff reap the rewards in reduced sickness absence and increased productivity, added Mr Farmer.
Although the recession has played a role in increasing levels of mental distress in the workplace, badly managed stress and workplace mental health problems are a long-standing issue in the UK workforce.
Previous research has shown that every year, 1 in 6 people of working age experience a mental health problem and that 5 million people rate themselves as very or extremely stressed by their jobs.
NICE published guidance on mental wellbeing in the workplace in November 2009 to try and help employers promote mental wellbeing at work through productive and healthy working conditions.
The guidance aims to help reduce the estimated 13.7 million working days lost each year due to work-related mental health conditions including stress, depression and anxiety which are currently estimated to cost UK employers around £28.3 billion per year at current pay levels.
NICE makes a number of recommendations such as ensuring that employers promote a culture of participation, equality and fairness that is based on open communication and inclusion, and ensuring that systems are in place for assessing and monitoring the mental wellbeing of employees so that areas for improvement can be identified and risks caused by work and working conditions addressed. This could include using employee attitude surveys and information about absence rates, staff turnover and investment in training and development, and providing feedback and open communication.
Additionally, NICE has published guidance on the management of long-term sickness absence and incapacity for work, on promoting physical activity in the workplace, and on workplace interventions to promote smoking cessation that could help to improve the health of workers affected by the recession.
18 May 2010
This page was last updated: 24 May 2010