Work-related stress and poor mental health risk becoming a health and safety crisis for Great Britain’s workplaces, the Health & Safety Executive has warned.
While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in the UK. Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression. A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees’ mental health had worsened during the pandemic.
In response, the HSE has launched its new campaign, ‘Working Minds’, at its Health and Work Conference, which examines issues relating to health at work. The campaign aims to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress and make tackling issues routine.
While ‘Working Minds’ is specifically targeting six million workers in small businesses, HSE is calling for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces, to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.
HSE chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury. In terms of the affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.
“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the Government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”