Firms urged to ‘step up’ mental health support amid pandemic concerns



With the threat of a second national lockdown looming and numerous local restrictions being introduced, employers are being urged to prioritise employee wellbeing, as four in 10 staff say they have experienced poor mental health related to work in the past year.

According to a YouGov survey of more than 3,600 employees commissioned by Business in the Community and Bupa UK, the proportion reporting work-related mental health concerns in the past 12 months has crept up from 39% in 2019 to 41% this year.

‘Pressure’ was the top mental health concern (51%), followed by workload, long hours and not taking enough leave (35%).

Despite widespread concern about the impact of Covid-19 on health and employment, only 37% of staff said CEOs and boards were considerate of their mental wellbeing. Colleagues and line managers were seen as more considerate, at 76% and 69% respectively.

The findings prompted BITC and Bupa UK to urge firms to “step up” mental health support for employees.

BITC wellbeing director Louise Aston said: “It is hard to believe that, despite the terrible effects of Covid-19 on all of our lives, employees finally feel that they are getting the support they need from their places of work. As we face the impending threat of a second lockdown, we need companies to keep stepping up for their employees.”

Bupa’s commercial director for UK insurance, Mark Allan, said many employers had “potentially limited” the mental health impact of the pandemic on staff through their wellbeing strategies, but gaps remained.

“Employees are feeling pressure from workload, long hours, and lack of annual leave. With local lockdowns already in place and potential for further measures, business leaders need to address these challenges quickly and ensure they are creating a supportive wellbeing culture,” said Allan.

“Promoting positive mental health will not only enable businesses to continue to provide support through the ongoing situation but also build a stronger workforce for years to come.”


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