Almost a quarter of British adults feel stressed on a daily basis, with work-related issues one of the main causes.

That is according to a new study by the Mental Health Foundation charity, which suggests helping staff to cope with rising stress levels and related mental health problems could become an increasingly important workplace inclusion issue for employers.

The study found that almost half (47 per cent) of British adults say they feel stressed every day or every few days (23 per cent and 24 per cent respectively).

Furthermore, 59 per cent of those surveyed reported that their life is generally more stressful now than it was five years ago.

Work-related issues (28 per cent) and money (26 per cent) were given as the main cause of stress for 54 per cent of Britons.

“The impact of current economic problems has put a lot of people under pressure due to the fear, or reality, of unemployment, insecure housing and high levels of debt and these results are not surprising,” said Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

“Unmanaged, stress can develop into serious mental health problems, such as depression, as well as increasing the risk of physical illness such as heart disease.”

Dr McCulloch urged government and employers to do more to help those suffering from stress to seek appropriate help to tackle the issue before it escalates into a problem requiring more serious medical attention, such as an admission to hospital.

“Admitting people to hospital for stress is usually an expensive solution to a problem that should have been solved earlier in a primary care or workplace setting,” he said.

“We must invest in less costly, more effective early intervention services for people experiencing such stress instead of waiting for people’s distress and symptoms to require a hospital admission.”