There has been an increase in the number of professionals experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, with women almost twice as likely as men to seek support, according to a survey.
Research published by workplace wellbeing provider Champion Health finds that the proportion of professionals reporting feelings of suicide or self-harm increased from 8% in 2021 to 9% in 2022.
The Workplace health report 2023 says that women are more likely than men to get professional support; 12% of women who thought about suicide or self-harm for several days or more fell into this category, compared with 7% of men.
Champion Health CEO Harry Bliss said the number of workers reporting suicidal thoughts is “terrifying”.
“Whilst a 1% increase from last year to 9% may seem low on the face of it, it isn’t, this means that in a workforce of 1,000 staff, 90 will be having thoughts about taking their own lives which could have a devastating impact,” he said.
Suicide and mental health
“Leaders need to step up and support their workforce, it is not only the moral thing to do but this research shows poor mental health, stress, and fatigue is increasingly affecting productivity, so it is also within the best interests of businesses.”
The report, based on a survey of 4,170 employees, also shows a 9 percentage point increase in the number of employees experiencing moderate to high levels of stress, with 76% of respondents now affected.
The main drivers of work-related stress include perceived high workload, which was cited by 73% of respondents, followed by a lack of control (31%), lack of support (29%) and senior staff members (27%). Only 9% say they never experience stress at work and 2% say they are overwhelmed.
Outside of work, 37% say that financial worries have caused stress, up from 30% last year. One in five say their financial worries have impacted their ability to do their job.
The survey was conducted in January-October 2022, before the majority of workers became affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
Physical health is also a concern for many, with the report finding that 41% experience musculoskeletal pain –17% of whom say it affects their productivity – and 62% experience at least one symptom of eye strain, possibly due to poorly set-up home offices.
Despite the report suggesting that workers’ health and wellbeing is in decline, the overwhelming majority (98%) of respondents feel motivated to improve their wellbeing. Four in 10 want to lose weight and around the same proportion want to boost their energy levels.