Sharp Increase in Employee Mental Health Issues

Medical Reviewer

As we move towards the close of 2015, the news that rates of depression, stress and anxiety have climbed sharply isn’t the happiest way to see out the year. Workplace Options, who describe themselves as the world’s leading provider of integrated employee wellbeing services, has recently published an analysis of three years’ worth of data from a relatively stable global population of 100,000 employees. They report a sharp rise in mental health issues.

The figures, obtained from employees across North and South America, Asia and Europe, reveal that depression increased 58 percent between 2012 and 2014. Employee anxiety also increased 74 percent and employee stress by 28 percent.

Within the same time frame, and looking just at the statistics for North America, rates of depression have increased nearly 26 percent, stress nearly 33 percent, and anxiety 71 percent.

According to the analysis the amount of personal emotional issues has remained stable. However, the fact that depression has increased by 73 percent in Asia may give some indication as to the causes. The pressure for higher productivity and performance is a big issue and would suggest that it’s taking its toll.

Workplace impact

The report matches others. Research from Canadian Life Group Insurance in the first quarter of 2015 showed 51 percent of employees had taken time off work due to mental health issues. Of these, 14 percent were off work for more than a month, while around 6 percent were off for more than six months. In addition, three in five people sampled from a population of 1,000 stated their working environment had a negative impact on their mental health.

Faced with such issues employers have to look at why the situation is so bad. Part of the problem for employers may come from the fact that many of their employees won’t reveal their distress. If the Canadian research is anything to go by it seems almost half of employees have real concerns about privacy. Around 17 percent worried about the ramifications of disclosure as to how their performance might be perceived. Embarrassment was viewed as another key factor in employee resistence.

If employers have genuine concerns about the mental health of their workforce they really do need an established and confidential system that employees trust and see value in.

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