Almost half of workers say they need mental health support

The mental health of employees in the UK continues to be at risk, with declining workplace productivity and the need for mental health support adding to the ongoing mental strain of the pandemic. The latest figures from the Mental Health Index, produced each month by wellbeing and mental health service provider Morneau Shepell, suggest a continuation of the decline in the rate as the pandemic continues.

The latest index score declined from -12 in September to -13.4 in October. The figure measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. The trend is displayed across all sub-scores tracked in The Mental Health Index, including financial risk (3.8), psychological health (-4.2), isolation (-11.6), depression (-15.9), anxiety (-15.9) and optimism (-18.2).

Given the prolonged period of increased strain, 40 per cent of the British population report needing some form of mental health support. The most commonly reported source of mental health support is from family members (20%), followed by support from friends or co-workers (14%) and support from a mental health professional (4%). Additionally, 10% of respondents indicate a need for support but have not sought it. This group has the lowest mental health score (-36.5).

The index also found that workplace productivity declined in October to -11.8, compared to -11.0 in September. As many employees continue to work remotely for the seventh consecutive month, increased workplace flexibility is helping to keep them motivated. Among 79% of respondents who report having flexible work hours, 35% indicate that having flexible work hours helps their productivity. This group's mental health score is the highest (-12.1), compared to respondents who report that flexible work hours reduces their productivity (-28.7).

“Working remotely continues to present significant challenges to the working population, especially with new lockdown restrictions now in effect in many areas,” said Philip Mullen, UK and Europe managing director for Morneau Shepell. “Employees that are provided with increased flexibility to accommodate their unique and ever-changing needs are responding more positively than those without. It is evident that maintaining this level of flexibility is critical to not only improve Britons’ mental health, but also to ensure workplace productivity, employee motivation and ultimately, business continuity.”

The monthly survey by Morneau Shepell is conducted through an online survey of 2,000 UK-based respondents.

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