According to mental health charity Mind, around one in every six of the UK workforce is experiencing some form of common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.
Statistics also show that mental health problems have a greater impact on women. Around 10% of male workers have some form of mental health problem, whilst women are twice as likely, with around 20% of female workers having a common mental health problem.
The problem of mental ill-health is a further concern for young people who are in work or studying. Half of workers between the age of 18-30 in a recent survey said they have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings (The Independent) and in 2021 over 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006 (Mental Health Foundation).
The most obvious reason for why so many young people are experiencing mental health difficulties is down to the increasingly complex pressures of being a young worker or student. However, there are many different reasons why young people in work or at university struggle with mental ill-health.
Working environment, conditions and culture can all affect the way a person feels whilst at work. If a person’s work environment is poor, then it may cause them to experience a work-related mental health problem. Other common reasons, such as a bereavement, trauma or personal circumstances, are unlikely to be work-related, but the feelings that these issues bring may also affect you at work
It is important to remember that your employer has a duty of care towards you as an employee. This means that they must take any mental health condition you may have seriously and must do all they can to support you with this in work. An employer also has the responsibility to ensure that the working environment and conditions experienced by their employees are positive and not negatively impacting on employees’ mental health.
If you are concerned about your working environment or there are things within work that are causing you to experience stress, depression or anxiety, it is a good idea to speak to your employer about this. If you feel that your employer is not taking their duty of care seriously, remember, we can help you as your union.
Important things to remember
- Look after yourself – Working and studying can be a very stressful and fast-paced lifestyle, but it’s also important that you don’t burn yourself out, as this could make your mental health worse in the long term. Staying active, sleeping well, learning to relax and finding time for more ‘fun activities’ are some recommended ways of ensuring good mental health. For more useful tips, see Mind’s ‘Five ways to wellbeing’.
- Protecting yourself in work – If you do have a mental health condition, you may be protected under the 2010 Equality Act. Mental health conditions such as depression and bipolar affective disorder are covered by it, meaning that your employer must support your condition in work and put any necessary provisions in place.
- We’re here to help – If you’re struggling to overcome an issue at work which is impacting on your mental health, you can call us for free employment workplace advice: 0800 389 6332.
You can also access Community’s free courses on:
Mind: Taking care of yourself