An anxious-looking woman at a window

Anxiety is on the increase, but mental health support is lacking

Sixty-eight percent of employees have felt anxious and apprehensive about returning to work, while 35% report their mental health is worse now compared to before the pandemic. Despite this, 56% of UK workers haven’t received any mental health support or advice from their employer since the pandemic hit in March.

These are the findings of a survey carried out by mental health organisation, TalkOut, which also discovered that just over half (51%) of respondents said they have felt uncertain about the future of their job since the start of the pandemic.

The survey also claims that a third (31%) of respondents were having less one-to-ones with their boss compared to before the pandemic, whilst 60% said that their workplace had not organised any virtual social activities to support them when working from home.

Despite the increase in mental health difficulties, 85% of respondents don’t think mental wellbeing has been their employer’s priority during the pandemic. When asked who they would speak to if they were feeling anxious or stressed about the current situation, 17% of respondents said they wouldn’t talk to anyone and only 15% would feel comfortable speaking to HR.

Jill Mead, CEO of TalkOut, comments:

“Mental health has been on the business agenda for some time, but if there’s one thing this crisis has made clear, it’s that there is still a long way to go when it comes to providing effective support to employees.

“Unfortunately, whilst businesses were quick to adapt to social distancing and working from home, for many, the emotional wellbeing of employees was an afterthought. But the psychological strain of the crisis is impossible to ignore and whether staff have been working on the frontline, furloughed or working from home, it’s likely to have a long-term impact.

“It may seem like a daunting task but there are a number of immediate actions businesses can take to improve staff health and wellbeing. Regular communication to see how people are doing, creating safe spaces for people to talk openly, providing mental health training, and pinpointing employees to useful resources are all great starting points.

“A positive and supportive workplace can make all the difference when it comes to mental health and, now more than ever, businesses have a duty of care to their workforce. In time, Britain will come to review its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but mental health can’t wait.”


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