Only two in five UK workers think their employer provides a good level of mental health support, despite the increased attention given to employee wellbeing during the pandemic.
According to UK data taken from insurance firm AXA’s annual Mind Health and Wellbeing study, only 40% of individuals said their employer provided “good” support, with managers in particular at the highest risk of poor mental health (one in four).
The study, which looked at the mental health of 11,000 people in 11 countries across Europe and Asia, also found that the UK has the highest prevalence of mental health conditions in Europe, with 37% of UK survey respondents experiencing at least one mental health condition, and 24% reporting that they were “struggling”.
Fifty one per cent of UK respondents felt stressed, 19% had depression and 8% had anxiety. Sixty-three per cent felt it had been difficult to “wind down” in the week before the survey.
Those in the UK were, along with France, most likely to react badly in difficult moments, getting angry with themselves or others, drinking more alcohol or acting recklessly.
The UK also counts relatively few people as “flourishing”, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Japan in AXA’s index.
The survey results also highlighted the challenges surrounding the provision of mental health support. Fewer than one in four people (23%) felt the NHS provided enough support for people with mental health conditions. Forty-six per cent disagreed that the UK’s public healthcare system provided the necessary mental health support.
AXA concluded that organisations that prioritise mental health support can make a real difference to employees’ wellbeing, with the study finding that those who felt supported at work were 1.6 times more likely to be happy and almost twice as likely to be “flourishing”.
Supporting mental health
Separate research commissioned by AXA UK & Ireland, which involved 2,000 adults, found that workplace cultures had become more empathetic since Covid-19 hit, with 53% of people in agreement.
Thirty per cent of UK workers said they felt more comfortable discussing their mental wellbeing with their employer, and 42% said that the pandemic had shown them the importance of having strong connections with colleagues for their mental health.
“While our new research shows that the UK’s workplace culture is becoming kinder and more empathetic, many organisations still need to do more to ensure they’re providing enough mental health support to their workforce or making sure their employees know what’s available,” said Claudio Gienal, CEO at AXA UK & Ireland.
“The pandemic has posed many challenges, but one positive is that it has allowed us to have more open conversations about mental health at work. Leaders should be using this opportunity to look at the support they’re providing and where gaps may be.
“Our study shows that organisations which support the mental health of their employees will not only benefit from a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, they will benefit wider society too. It really is a win-win for everyone.”