New research uncovers a concerning disparity in the impact of stress and burnout on women’s mental health as compared to men, revealing that women bear a significantly heavier burden in the face of the current state of the world. Moreover, the findings reveal a connection between women’s happiness and vitality, often undermined by lower pay rates, as women are twice as likely as men to earn less than £1,500 a month.

As part of its 2023 Vitality Study, health services giant Cigna Healthcare, in collaboration with Dr. Richard Ryan, a leading expert in the science of human motivation and vitality, conducted a comprehensive survey that involved 10,000 participants from 12 countries. The study focused on various aspects, including health, emotional well-being, and physical security.

It highlights the eight pillars that contribute to people’s overall well-being, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, financial, environmental, spiritual and occupational health, which is used as a measure of psychological well-being and scientifically validated whole person health.

Taking into account relevant current issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, financial stability and future uncertainty, the study reveals:

  • Women have significantly lower vitality levels than men,driven by a combination of factors, including an overall ‘perception of a lack of energy and positive spirit’
  • Women score lower than men for both emotional and financial vitality
  • By contrast, vitality in men is driven by greater financial security and emotional well-being, plus a general ‘positive spirit and energy’
  • Over half (53%) of stressed women reported that the greatest impact of stress is disrupted sleep patterns and tiredness

The study also reveals the impact financial pressures have on women’s well-being and low vitality levels. Cigna Healthcare’s study highlights the gender pay gap is a significant issue for women, who are twice as likely as men to earn under £1,500 per month, with a staggering 52% of women in this pay bracket compared to just 26% of men.

Dr Stella George, Chief Medical Officer, Cigna Healthcare, said:

Our latest research reveals some alarming statistics when it comes to the well-being of women. Increased levels of stress and burnout will only have long-term effects – a fifth of those in the UK reported feeling more helpless, trapped, and defeated than normal. Steps must be taken to improve the mental well-being of women, and the nation as a whole.

Dr Stella George, Chief Medical Officer, Cigna Healthcare

The Cigna Healthcare survey also revealed high levels of stress across the whole population, with lower vitality levels for younger and single people:

  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) Brits are experiencing more burnout symptoms than usual
  • Married couples, Baby Boomers (age 60+) and males display higher levels of vitality than singles and females
  • Half of those surveyed (49%) cited the ongoing cost of living crisis as the largest cause of stress, followed by personal finance (38%)

Dr Stella George added:

These are dangerous levels of stress and burnout – people need to understand that help is out there. Importantly, employers can offer those suffering from burnout much needed support, from recognising the warning signs, understanding the effects, and helping to manage and reduce burnout within teams.

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.