Staff experiencing mental health issues and not speaking to anyone doubles

The number of UK workers who are experiencing mental health issues and have not discussed it with anyone else has doubled since last year.

Bupa UK, a healthcare company found that 44 per cent of employees have experienced poor mental health such as continuous low mood, anxiousness, low self-esteem or hopelessness and not spoken to anyone about their feelings. In 2019, this was 22 per cent. 

It appears that lockdown may have heightened the chances of these feelings occurring as 82 per cent of UK adults have experienced them during this period.

Only 5 per cent have spoken to a health professional about their mental problems. Nearly half (45 per cent) said they will not seek any medical assistance in the future. With others saying they tend to wait at least 49 days before coming forward about their problems.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) do not go to other people with these issues as they do not feel now is a good time ‘to make a fuss’ when the country is dealing with COVID-19. The research also found that 43 per cent feel pressured to ‘grin and bear it’.

Baby boomers are likely to take 65 days to come forward about these problems, with women taking 15 days longer than men.

However, over half (52 per cent) of staff are worried about what life will be like following the lifting of lockdown restrictions with employees feeling anxious about the idea of using public transport again. As well as 25 per cent worried that their mental health will worsen once life returns to normal.

Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa UK Insurance said:

There’s no getting away from the fact that this has been a really tough period for our mental health. High levels of anxiety and depression have been reported while the country has been in lockdown, and as we remain in a period of uncertainty and change, mental health professionals expect these issues to continue.

But it’s extremely concerning to see that so many people don’t feel that they can come forward to discuss their symptoms – either with friends or family or with a health professional. We can’t simply wait and hope these issues will pass. Early diagnosis is so important for improving outcomes, and with the number of services and resources available people shouldn’t suffer in silence or think that nothing can be done.

If you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek medical help at the right time. People should not be waiting nearly three months to come forward. It can be hard to distinguish between what’s ‘normal’ for you and what may be a symptom of a more significant mental health issue, and I often recommend that people try to think about whether their symptoms have been affecting them for two weeks or more, and if so, to seek help.

This research was conducted by Opinium, an insight agency by asking 2,000 UK workers how they feel during May 2020.