Mental ill health accounted for four in 10 fit notes issued by GPs during the first lockdown in the spring, although fewer fit notes have been issued to workers than the previous year, according to new analysis of NHS Digital data.
NTT Data UK’s analysis of the data covering April to June 2020 found mental and behavioural disorders accounted for 41% (67,105) of all diagnosed fit notes issued. This is compared with a pre-lockdown 12 month average of 35%.
However, the total number of fit notes issued fell by a third (34.1%) to 163,250, compared to the pre-lockdown average for a three-month period.
When it looked at the number of fit notes issued to staff who were still working and had not been furloughed, NTT Data found the decline in the number of fit notes issued was narrower, at 10%.
Vicki Chauhan, head of public services at NTT DATA UK, said: “Employee mental health and wellbeing has always been of crucial importance in the workplace. This research shows that it’s more important now than ever to support our health as lockdown and remote working continues to impact society.
“At NTT DATA we provide our staff with emotional support and coaching by trained mental health first aiders and regularly sharing useful content on mental health management. To promote mindfulness and self-care, we encourage regular breaks during the day and also offer free virtual yoga sessions. Most importantly, we urge our employees to support each other and reach out to their colleagues if they are struggling.
“These are extraordinary times and until we can return to a level of normality, employers must remain conscious of the challenges that remote working poses to mental health and continue to support their staff as this pandemic evolves.”