The spectre of becoming a nation plagued by widespread burnout looms large, as indicated by recent observations from Mental Health UK.

The charity has highlighted a disturbing trend of individuals taking leave from their professional roles, attributing this to deteriorating mental health, a situation exacerbated by global concerns such as climate change and the advent of artificial intelligence, which are instigating a sense of despair.

This revelation emerged from a YouGov survey, which scrutinised the experiences of 2,060 adults, including 1,132 individuals actively engaged in the workforce. The findings revealed that 35% of the participants reported encountering high or extreme levels of stress in their workplaces over the preceding year, with 20% necessitating time away from work due to stress-induced mental health issues.

Brian Dow, the Chief Executive of Mental Health UK, expressed grave concerns about the country’s trajectory towards widespread burnout, emphasising the complex nature of the challenges posed by mental health-related work absences. He noted the transformative shift in workplace dynamics and public perceptions concerning mental health, particularly in the wake of the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges. Dow highlighted the countless pressures exerted by external factors, including the financial strains of everyday living and broader global crises, which collectively contribute to heightened stress, anxiety, and a feeling of helplessness.

Nebel Crowhurst, Chief People Officer at Reward Gateway, has voiced a plea to action by highlighting the intricate link between financial wellbeing and burnout. Citing data from Reward Gateway, Crowhurst pointed out that individuals grappling with poor financial health are significantly more prone to burnout compared to their financially stable counterparts, and employers need to respond accordingly:

A great response by employers could help workers feel truly supported in their personal lives. For instance, during the cost-of-living crisis, benefits like interest-free loans on white goods could dampen some immediate financial worries. Or, employees can show their support for big life decisions this year, with benefits like fertility support with family planning, or valuable mortgage advice. Now, more than ever, workplaces can help people reset the balance – empowering connection both at work and in our personal lives.

Nebel Crowhurst, Chief People Officer at Reward Gateway

Mental Health UK has called upon Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to convene a national summit. This assembly aims to foster a collaborative environment where ministers, employers, and specialists can strategise on cultivating healthier workplaces and fortifying support structures for the workforce.

The government, acknowledging the intricate relationship between employment and mental health, has pledged a substantial investment of £2.3 billion in mental health services and is committed to integrating nearly 400,000 individuals into NHS talking therapies. These initiatives are part of a broader strategy to dismantle barriers to employment and bolster health support within businesses.

The YouGov survey also shed light on the reluctance of a significant portion of the workforce to discuss stress and pressure with their superiors or colleagues. It highlighted prevalent issues such as workplace bullying and intimidation, further contributing to the stress experienced by employees. The survey also noted a concerning lack of preparedness among employers, with nearly half of the respondents indicating the absence of a structured approach to identify and address signs of chronic stress within their organisations.

In a climate where the intersection of work, mental health, and societal pressures is increasingly evident, the collective call for a more empathetic, supportive, and proactive approach to workforce wellbeing has never been more urgent.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

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.