New data from over 100,000 counselling sessions with UK employees reveals the mental health and wellness trends set to face workplaces across the country in the next 12 months.
1. Financial stress
With the cost of living crisis continuing to weigh heavily on households across the UK, workplace well-being consultancy and counselling service, TERC, is seeing a huge rise in the number of employees seeking counselling due to finance-related stress. There was a 48% increase in the number of clients who were dealing with financial pressures between 2022 and 2023. And, with this number rising month-on-month, employers should expect to continue to see staff impacted by money-related stress in the months to come and consider strategies to support those struggling. For example, offering access to financial education and more flexible working when needed.
2. An open dialogue about anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression consistently remain amongst the most common reasons for people seeking counselling services, coming in second after stress. However, cases of depression are rising, with a 40% increase in depression and low mood diagnoses in the last 12 months alone.
Whilst, on the surface, this trend might seem concerning, the spike is partly due to more people seeking help than ever before. This is a positive step for both those suffering and employers. But, as this trend continues, it does mean that businesses will be under more pressure than ever before to provide support channels for those who choose to open up about their mental health and need further help.
3. The impact of our ageing population
With the average age for retirement steadily rising, employers should prepare for this to have an increasing effect on their workforce’s mental health. Older workers have a wealth of experience and knowledge, but they also face their own unique set of challenges. For example, they might be managing a physical health condition, facing ageism in the workplace, or grappling with the prospect of retirement and the huge lifestyle change this brings.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the average age of people seeking help for their mental health is increasing, with a higher proportion of employees aged 60 and over using counselling services than ever before.
The number of people battling with addiction in the UK is increasing, with ONS data showing that levels of drug use rose by 17% in 2023. Yet, the number of people seeking treatment for addiction via Employee Assistance Programmes remains incredibly low. Just 61 of TERC’s 2.1 million registered users entered the service due to issues with addiction in 2023.
This is a growing challenge for employers. Addiction can have a major impact on employee wellbeing and performance if left unaddressed. So, businesses will be under pressure to destigmatise the topic and create an environment in which staff feel safe seeking support for addiction and related mental health challenges.
5. Neurodiversity diagnoses
With data from University College London revealing that ADHD diagnoses have increased 20-fold in the last two decades, and diagnoses of conditions like autism also rising, it’s never been more important for employers to have support strategies in place to enable neurodiverse employees to thrive at work.
However, as awareness of neurodiverse conditions increases, there is also a growing trend of employers and line managers labelling their staff themselves, instead of encouraging them to seek professional assessment. Whilst encouraging employees to develop a greater understanding of their mind and how they work best has huge business benefits, this trend of unqualified diagnoses is dangerous and could contribute to staff failing to seek the treatment they need if it continues.
Commenting on the new insights, Tracey Paxton, Chief Clinical Officer at TERC, said:
We hope that these insights into the most common mental health challenges facing UK workers will better equip employers and line managers to identify issues amongst staff and provide them with the support they need to become the happiest, healthiest, and most productive versions of themselves.
Tracey Paxton, Chief Clinical Officer at TERC
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.