Employers need to 'ramp up' mental health support as depression increases

During the COVID-19 pandemic the number of people suffering from depression has almost doubled, with calls being made for employers to “ramp up” mental health support for their workers.

This is according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) who found that in June 2020, 19 per cent of UK citizens experienced depression compared to 9.7 per cent in June 2019. Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser at the CIPD said employers need to “ramp up” the mental health support they provide their workers.

On the other hand, only 3.5 per cent said they have felt an improvement in their mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ms Suff said:

Working full time from home for a few weeks is a different prospect to doing so indefinitely, and there’s a risk that some could feel isolated emotionally and cut off from the organisation. This means many people could be at risk from stress if organisations don’t adequately support people and look after their health and wellbeing.

Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at Mind, a mental health charity in England said:

We cannot underestimate the impact the pandemic has had on the nation’s mental health – whether that’s bereavement, the devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown or the recession we are now in.

We know people already struggling with their mental health or with related issues like problems with employment, housing, benefits and debt have been hardest hit by coronavirus, but the ONS figures also show how the pandemic has affected people who were previously well and are now experiencing depressive symptoms for the first time.

Michael Burich, co-founder & chief operating officer (COO), Synctuition, a mindfulness app believes the Government has set up systems to hinder unemployment such as the furlough scheme but has done nothing to try and control the mental health crisis.

Mr Burich said:

The UK Government has recently established policies to stimulate the economy and tackle unemployment following the detrimental impact of lockdown measures, but it is failing to recognise that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Without providing relief to people during times of high stress and anxiety, which may be layered on top of other mental health issues, we may never restore balance to our societies and ease the growing strain on the National Health Service. The Government should be looking to implement a national wellness programme in order to safeguard people’s mental health. It should invest in digital solutions that would help people destress and reduce anxiety from home to avoid these feelings from causing further and potentially permanent damage to their wellbeing. Mindfulness apps are a great solution for that, for example.

On 10/07/20 HRreview reported that Glassdoor found that 40 per cent of workers are suffering from anxiety, and 34 per cent from sleeplessness since lockdown began.

Just under a fifth (19 per cent) have said they felt helpless, 9 per cent from a physical illness and 8 per cent have even experienced suicidal thoughts.

It also found that Women have been more negatively affected than men by the lockdown as 47 of women compared to 33 per cent of men have suffered from anxiety. Over a third (39 per cent) of women have reported they are experiencing sleeplessness compared to 29 per cent of men. Also, nearly half (49 per cent) of women state they lack motivation in contrast to 35 per cent of men.

In order to obtain this research, the ONS surveyed 3,527 UK adults over a 12-month period.