Tag: mental health

Fear of fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself- Franklin D. Roosevelt 

The Root of Fear and what it is? 

Let us first look at what is fear? If we can understand the problem with desire then we will understand and be free from fear. ‘I want to be something’ – that is the root of fear itself. When I want to be something, my desire to be something and my not being that something creates fear, not only in a narrow sense but in the widest sense possible. So as long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear.   

Observing this root of fear 

Can the mind possibly observe fear? Your fear: fear of death, fear of life, fear of loneliness, fear of darkness, fear of being nobody, fear of been hurt, fear of been deceived, fear of not becoming a great success, fear of not being a leader,  fear of so many different things. First of all, is one aware of it? Or one tends to lead such a superficial life, only talking about something else and so one is never aware of oneself, of one’s own fears.   

Then if one does become aware of those fears, at what level do you become aware? Is it an intellectual awareness of them or are you actually aware of your fears at a degree of deeper level that is in the hidden recesses of the mind? And if they are so hidden, how are they to be exposed? Must you go to an analyst? But the analyst is you; he needs to be analysed too! 

So how do you uncover the whole structure and deal with the intricacies of fear? This is a tremendous problem, not just to be listened to for two or three minutes and then forgotten but to find out for oneself whether it is possible to expose all fears, or whether there is only one central fear that has many branches.  

When one sees the central fear the branches begin to wither away. If the mind can understand the root of fear then the branches, the various aspects of fear has no meaning, they wither away. So what is the root of fear? Can you look at your fear? Please look at it now, invite it. Naturally you are not afraid now, sitting here, but you know what your fears are: loneliness, not being loved, not being beautiful, frightened of losing your job, etc. 

By looking at one fear, at your particular fear, you can then see the root of that fear is the root of all fear. You will observe and see for yourself that through one fear you discover the very root of all fear. 

There is no illusion greater than fear- Lao Tzu 

So can you observe your fear like a tough nutThrough one fear trace the very root of all fear? Let us understand that ‘The self is the root of all fear. To inhibit or suppress fear is not to transcend or surpass it; its cause must be self-discovered then understood and finally dissolved. To understand consciousness, one has to be really free, totally, of fear. It is only with direct contact with fear that you are free. 

Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run Or Face everything and rise’ 

We have to understand fear and be completely free of it, right through your being that is the goalParadoxically, you can only do it when there is no escape of any kind. When you understand this, you are directly in contact with fear. In that contact there is no time interval, there is no saying, ‘I will get over it,’ or ‘I will develop courage,’ when you are frightened. We are dealing with facts here, and we cannot deal with what is if there is any form of escape, conscious or even unconscious. 

When you come directly into contact with fear, there is a response of the nerves. When the mind is no longer escaping through words or through activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is the mind that is escaping that separates itself from fear. But when there is a direct contact with fear there is no observer, there is no entity that says, ‘I am afraid.’ So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division and it is this division that breeds competition, ambition and fear. 

If you seek a way or a method or a system to be rid of fear, you will everlastingly be caught in fear. But if you understand fear, which can only take place when you come directly in contact with it then you do something. Only then will you find that all fear ceases – we mean all fear, not fear of this kind or of that kind in particular. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom. And there is no intelligence if there is any form of conflict, and conflict must exist as long as there is fear. 

Conditioning is the very root of fear, and where there is fear there is no virtue. To go into this profoundly requires a great deal of intelligence, and we mean by intelligence the understanding of all influence and being free of it. 

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown- H.P. Lovecraft 

The Physical and Emotional Effects of Fear 

Without fear, an individual’s chances of day-to-day survival would likely diminish. In this way, fear can be healthy; it helps people keep away from dangerous or harmful situations by triggering a “fight or flight” response. Fear often affects people physically and emotionally. 

Fear may cause someone to experience an enhanced perception of space and time, or their senses of sight, hearing, and smell may be heightened. In life-threatening situations, fear can also reduce the ability to notice fine detail while increasing the capacity to distinguish large or blurry objects. These adjustments in perception can increase a person’s chance of survival in a dangerous or savage situation. 

You may experience a variety of physical responses when experiencing fear, such as: 

  • Temporary paralysis or an erratic heartbeat 
  • Stomach pain, head pain, or nausea 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Sweating 
  • Muscle tension, twitching, or trembling 
  • Crying 
  • Stuttering 
  • Erratic sleep patterns 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Rapid or shallow breathing 

Psychological effects of fear can include intrusive or distracting thoughts, loss of focus, and confusion. People may also experience a variety of emotional effects, including terror, anxiety, anger, despair, numbness, or helplessness. 

Here are 12 ways to try and overcome fear:  

  • Understand fear and then embrace it   Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them. 
  •  Don’t just do something, sometimes just stand there!  When fear strikes consider whether the correct action might be to analyze the options and make a wise, well thought out choice rather than jumping to what seems right in the heat of the moment. 
  •  Name the fear and focus Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks. 
  •  Think and consider long term   If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution. 
  • Educate yourself to the core We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than mere speculation. 
  •  Prepare, practice, role play and repeat If your fear is related to your performance in a certain activity then prepare, practice, and role play and repeat the same till you hit perfection 
  •  Utilize peer pressurefor your good Peer pressure, like fear, can be positive or negative depending on how it’s displayed. Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want. 
  • Visualize success for greatness Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. This mental mapping ensures that when the body moves, it’s more likely to follow its pre-decided path. 
  • Gain a sense of proportionfirst How big of a deal, really, is the thing you are afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in or not with everything else we value.  
  • Get help if need be Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Can you find a mentor or support group to help you through it?  
  • Have a positive attitude for your own good Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up. 
  •  Be willing to turn on pivot If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether. 


Fears are nothing more than a state of mind- Napoleon Hill 


Author: Trishna Patnaik

Trishna Patnaik






About the writer: 


Trishna Patnaik, a Bsc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years now. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer too. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.























Featured image:

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

Mental health maintenance kit

Life is so challenging and day to day challenges can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. I have created a mental health maintenance kit to help maintain emotional wellbeing. It’s a quick and easy way to keep yourself balanced and can assist in coping with stress and anxiety.
This mental health maintenance kit has been created after doing research on what works and many of my clients have reported that this has helped them to overcome difficult times in life. Of course it can’t solve everything but it’s a great checklist to remind you of positive things you can do each day to keep yourself on the straight and narrow,
I use it daily and try my best to make sure I have used each one of the seven strategies to help me deal with life, especially when I feel vulnerable or know that my thinking is ‘off’. When we feel especially emotional about something, our thinking can be affected by these intense emotions and this is when we should accept that our thinking may not be accurate.
When we’re emotional and in a vulnerable place it’s a good time to implement the mental health maintenance kit too, it can be used as a preventative measure or to help us during tough times:
In short, the mental health maintenance kit is based on the acronym: IMAGINE
I = “I” for self care
M = Mindfulness
A = Acceptance
G = Gratitude
I = Interaction
N = Nurture fun/playfulness
E = Explore


It’s a good idea to engage in self care daily. Looking after yourself involves many different things. Some are basic such as brushing your teeth and showering. Other forms of self care: hand creams, face creams, moisturiser, getting a massage, going to the hairdresser etc. Try to improve on self care over time. If you currently can only manage to brush your teeth, then try to brush teeth and shower. If your basic hygiene needs are met, perhaps put body cream on or a face mask. Prioritise self care as it does wonders for emotional well being and has many psychological benefits.
Examples of self care: getting your hair done, going for a massage, any forms of self improvement, eating a healthy diet, exercising.


Several times a day, it’s good to practise mindfulness. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes each time, try to focus on the present moment. Focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Being mindful takes our focus away from our worries about the past or the future and gives our minds a well needed rest.
Good examples: a meal with a friend, watching television, playing with your children, meditation


Ask yourself if there is anything that you are resisting when you need to accept it? Are there things out of your control that you fight against? Acceptance can take a lot of strain off us. Resistance can lead to unnecessary anxiety and/or depression. Regularly look at your life and learn to accept the way it is at the moment. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to want things to change but acceptance frees up our energy to focus on what can influence and change.

Example: I went througha breakup a while back and found it hard to accept. I kept resisitng and hoping we would get back together. Once I accepted the status quo I healed much quicker and was able to move on.

Ask yurself: What am I fighting against that I actually have no control over? Accepting what is can be very liberating.


It’s easy to focus on what isn’t right in our lives. The grass can seem greener on the other side and it’s common to want what we don’t have. It’s a great mental skill to practise gratitude as it can instantly help us to feel happier.

Think about what is good in your life, no matter how small. Some people even keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.

Our default seems to be quite negative and it’s a good strategy to remind us that things aren’t always that bad.

Each day focus on what went well – it could be something as simple as the fact that the sun is shining. We activate different neuarl pathways in our brains when we focus on what is good and this leads to longer lasting levels of satisfaction over time.


Spending time with others can often bring us the most joy. Being with others releases the feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. Being with others helps us to feel connected and involved. If you find you are avoiding others, it’s important to figure out why. Of course we all need time out but if you systematically avoid people, you are missing out on many happy opportunities.


Make time to be silly in life. Laugh often and always maintain a sense of humour. We often take life too seriously and seeing the funny side can lessen the emotional impact if it’s negative. Watch comedies, play games, go skiing, do things that make you smile.

Get in touch with your fun childlike side again.


This involves looking a little deeper into your patterns of behaviour. Identify what your ‘mental diet’ is – that is, what thoughts are you ‘feeding’ yourself? The thoughts we accept and ‘buy into’ will affect our quality of life. Are there any unhelpful thoughts leading you off course – such as mind reading, catastrophising or being self critical? (see the list of unhelpful thinking). If you struggle to understand your behaviour and find that it is causing you issues, Cognitive behavioural therapy could help you uncover deeper issues.


Mandy X

Copyright mandy kloppers/thoughtsonlifeandlove/headscience.co.uk 2019

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

mental health first aid

Mental health first aid

Mental health first aid is all about helping people understand the basics of mental health – how to spot early warning signs, how to respond and how to support someone with mental health issues. Mental health first aid offers information on how to prevent a mental health issue becoming worse.

When someone has a mental health issue, it can affect every area of their life. Their work, their self esteem and confidence as well as their relationships. If your mental health is at risk, every other part of life can be affected.


Everyone is different but there are warning signs that tend to be more common:


Someone who is beginning to succumb to depression may start to become quieter, less jovial and less sociable. They may take more time off work, be less productive at work, less focused and more distracted.


Behaviour changes drastically as depression takes hold. A person can become lethargic and less ethusiastic. They will seem to do less, smile less and participate less in life. Enthusiasm dips when someone is anxious or depressed.


For some people who are depressed, even taking a shower or brushing their teeth can seem a huge effort (this is usually when depression is at its worst). Life can feel like such an effort.

Depression is not a case of feeling sad, there is often no particular reason for feeling so low. This can make a depressed person feel guilt as they feel they don’t have a right to feel the way they do.


There can be genetic as well as personality factors (nature versus nurture) involved in the onset of depression. It isn’t the same as sadness which is usually a direct cause of an unfortunate event (such as losing a job or divorce). Prolonged stress can lead to depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks.


Many people try to self soothe incorrectly. They don’t want to talk about the fact that they aren’t coping for fear of being judged as weak. As a result they might seek out unhelpful ways to feel happier – alcohol, drugs, gambling. Addictive behaviours can help initially but the effects are short lived. They get the short lived dopamine hit and keep going back for more, inadvertently making the situation worse. Escape behaviours are the order of the day but the underlying problem will persist.


The worst thing you could ever do for someone who is anxious or depressed is tell them to “snap out of it”, “pull themselves together” or to “think positively”. It’s just not possible when someone feels depressed. It’s an involuntary state of mind caused by a variety of triggers.

Be kind and supportive as well as non-judgemental. Many people fear admitting that they aren’t coping and reacting negatively would prevent someone from reaching out. Listen to them, sometimes just being able to talk and have someone listen can help ease their emotional burden.

Someone with mental health issues needs to see their GP and find out about talking to a counsellor. If they haven’t been able to solve their depression on their own, it is highly likely that they will need a little help to find their way. There are many options available and being depressed doesn’t mean the end of the road although it may feel like that when in the throes of depression.


Depression tends to lead to inactivity, lack of enthusiasm and low energy. It is a mood disorder that zaps the energy and life out of someone. To complicate matters, those with bipolar disorder alternate between low energy and high energy episodes.

Anxiety involves more nervous energy – it is underpinned by fear and a sense of threat. There are many types of anxiety – generalised anxiety disorder,social anxiety, health anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks to name a few. Anxiety can manifest in many ways. It can also result in withdrawal and isolation (as in depression). Anxiety can interfere with daily functioning and lead to inaction, procrastination, indecision, seeking reassurance, over-checking and many other behaviours that are often referred to as “safety behaviours”. They ease the anxiety temporarily but the anxiety soon returns.

Many people with anxiety tend to avoid what they fear which leads to the fear remaining untested. Cognitive behavioural therapy is great for increasing exposire and gradually reducing anxiety.


Personality disorders are more common in people who were abused or neglected as children. Their neural pathways develop in a distorted pattern leading to a life time of dysfunctional thinking. Those with personality disorder can be hard to spot though and often maintain high functioning behaviour. Types of personality disorders – emotionally unstable personality disorder, antisocial disorder, narcisisstic personality disorder., to name a few.

Suicide is always a risk for someone who feels at the end of their tether. The more specific someone is in how they plan to commit suicide the more notice you should take. Never ignore threats. Someone feeling suicidal needs immediate intervention, either call: 111 or The Samaritans:116 123

Mental health issues are experienced by one in four of us and life is set up in such a way that we are constantly challenged. Unfairness, injustice, daily pressure, bereavement, relationship problems, debt – the list goes on. We all have our cross to bear. be kind, be tolerant and you may just save a life.

Mandy X

If you or someone you know needs help: mental health resources

open plan office

The psychological impact of open plan offices

The design of an office has a measurable impact on employees’ wellbeing. The psychological impact of open plan offices is frequently overlooked by managers of companies. Of course for every situation, there are pros and cons but from the available reserach it would seem there are very few advantages when it comes to open plan offices.

In 1997, a Canadian company asked a group of psychologists from the University of Calgary to monitor employees as they shifted from a traditional office layout to an open one. The psychologists assessed the employees before the transition, four weeks after the transition, and, finally, six months afterward, measuring their satisfaction with their surroundings, as well as their stress level, job performance, and interpersonal relationships. The results were less than positive; the employees suffered pursuant to every benchmark: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome. Instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity plummeted.

The advantages of an open plan office

Improves mobility. This is the only advantage I have found whilst doing my research.

The disadvantages of an open plan office

Dimishes collaboration – employees tend to send more emails.

Decreases interactions between employees.

A study found that employees working in small numbers (3 to 9 people) and medium-sized (10 to 20 people) in open-plan offices reported lower levels of well-being and ease of interaction with other employees.

“The open plan offices may have short-term financial benefits, but these benefits may be substantially lower than the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction and well-being,” Dr Otterbring further commented.

More interruptions and distractions leads to less focus on work.

Noise levels.

No privacy.

Hot desking – leads to a sense of being unimportant and undervalued, a cog in the wheel. Studies have shown that people forced to share workspaces reported feeling marginalised, experienced more distractions, negative relationships and uncooperative behaviour, not to mention feeling like their supervisors were being less supportive.

No escape from a bad boss. According to a recent Gallup poll of a million U.S. workers, a bad boss is the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs. According to the British Psychological Society, bad bosses can make employees chronically depressed and actively hostile to co-workers.

Employees are more likely to get ill – spread of communicable diseases increases. This increases absenteeism and lowers productivity amd company profits.

Approx 50% of the population (the percentage of introverts) find open office plans anxiety provoking and draining, thereby reducing productivity.

Open plan offices can increase gender inequality. Open plan offices favour more attractive females. and also promote sexual harrassment. Female employees often feel more exposed and ‘on show’ in open plan offices.

Evolution would suggest we all naturally feel safer with our back to a wall. This isn’t always possible in an open plan office and can lead someone to contantly experience low threat-anxiety. The triggering of stress hormones and the automatic: fight, flight, freeze response may be generated consistently whilst in an open plan office. There is a perceived lack of safety in this environment. When you sit with your back exposed, your body constantly produces the stress hormone cortisol, which negatively affects your weight and immune system while creating a greater risk of chronic disease.

Constant multi tasking is exhausting for the brain. Always being aware of surroundings, noise can be fatiguing on a long term basis. Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is involved in the body’s “fight or flight” response. Essentially, workers in open offices are under a constant barrage of adrenaline, their bodies telling them to fight or flee. For those who suffer from anxiety disorders, high levels of epinephrine causes increased discomfort, worry, and distress. Over a period of time, the constant high dose of epinephrine leads to a phase of exhaustion where the body starts to experience the more harmful effects of anxiety.

 According to studies recently cited in Psychology Today: “People who were frequent media multitaskers had reductions in their brains’ grey matter–specifically, in areas related to cognitive control and the regulation of motivation and emotion…and exhibited weakness in both working memory (the ability to store relevant information while working on a task) and long-term memory (the ability to store and recall information over longer periods of time).”


The future will be different. Gadgets are more portable now and we don’t need an office anymore to do work. Public transport seems to be struggling to keep up with demand and the roads seem to be getting busier – remote office working seems to be the trend of the future.

Reasons to avoid an open plan office:

Many employers are caught up in the incorrect notion that open offices incite creativity and teamwork, and shaking them of it may be a difficult task. Open plan offices do more damage than good. Just ask your employees what they might prefer and work from there. Happy employees leads to more productive businesses with higher profits in the long term. Why do you think the big bosses always have their own offices?


Stats quoted from 2 Harvard researchers: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/1753/20170239

References: https://www.psypost.org/2016/08/how-open-offices-are-killing-us-44478


poor mental health at work

Financial insecurity contributing to poor mental health for UK workers

* A quarter of employees are struggling to make ends meet, less than half are satisfied with their current financial situation

* Two-thirds say mental health and wellbeing affected by personal job security (66%)

* 90% of young people say their mental health is affected by the cost of living

A national mental health at work survey, commissioned by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer, has found that employees are struggling to deal with the demands and insecurities of the workplace and that financial insecurity is contributing to the national burden of poor mental health.

The survey of over 4,000 people, conducted by YouGov and run for the third consecutive year, exposes the relationship between personal finances and mental health, with two thirds of respondents saying their mental health and wellbeing is affected by job security (66%) the state of the economy, (65%) and the cost of living (77%).

Financial concerns caused three-fifths of respondents to say they had experienced negative mental health symptoms such as loss of sleep, stress, lack of concentration, and fatigue, with younger workers in their 20s bearing the brunt of job insecurity and low wages; 90% reported their mental health was affected by the cost of living.

Fewer than half of employees (46%) are satisfied with their current financial situation, and 56% of employees are reluctant to talk about money issues at work.

Employees were more likely to talk to their manager about general mental health issues (24%) than financial issues (14%) when given a direct choice. However, half still say they wouldn’t like to talk about either, and only 17% of employees believed that their employer supports those with financial difficulties.

Although most employees feel unable to talk about financial wellbeing and mental health at work, 85% of people managers saw employee wellbeing as being their responsibility. Meanwhile 68% of managers

believed that there were barriers to providing support for staff mental wellbeing, with training a key concern; 67% of line managers said they had not had any training on mental health.

Business in the Community is calling on organisations to do more to support conversations between staff and their line managers about all aspects of wellbeing, including financial.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director, Business in the Community, said:

“There is a two-way causal relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health, but very few employers support employees experiencing financial difficulties. Employers have a role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting to appropriate sources of professional support.

“There is huge financial pressure on employees, with stagnant wages and living costs which continue to rise, so employers have an important role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting them to appropriate sources of professional support.

“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing.

The report asks employers to take action to support financial wellbeing. They should:

* Integrate financial wellbeing into organisational health and wellbeing policies and be explicit about what’s available or acceptable within the organisation to people with financial issues. For example, pay advances, hardship loans, time off to sort financial issues, travel loans, access to EAP, money counselling or other support services.

* Offer financial education to improve employee financial understanding increase the use of existing benefits; making available salary deducted savings, in order to create a financial buffer; or offering salary-deducted lower cost loans to help employees who are in debt or have unexpected expenditure but no savings. Include awareness of financial issues in line manager employee wellbeing training and equip them with information about what solutions are available as part of the overall employee benefits package.

* Signpost colleagues (staff, line managers and HR) to organisations that offer free help and guidance on money issues such as Money Advice Service (general money issues), The Pensions Advisory Service (for pension specific issues and Step Change (personal debt counselling).

Wolfgang Seidl, Workplace Health Consulting Leader UK and Europe, Mercer Marsh Benefits said:

“For the health of the workforce to flourish, focus must shift from disconnected initiatives to approaches that address employees’ physical and mental wellbeing as one”, said Wolfgang Seidl, “Someone struggling to manage their income, may experience stress and sleep loss, leading to unhealthy comfort eating. They might not yet experience health issues and by encouraging a focus on financial wellness, employers can help prevent any from developing further down the line.

“Mental health has become such an abstract concept that it seems it cannot be treated, so a practical approach is important. Looking at the root causes, such as financial worries, harassment, lack of equality, lack of opportunities to exercise, and more, makes it easier to find ways to prevent and treat.”

Eve Read, UK Consulting Leader – DC & Individual Wealth, Mercer, added:

“Employers need to consider what workplace initiatives are required to support their employees’ financial wellbeing. Depending on the specific pain points experienced by employees company benefits programmes can be structured to drive positive change, by offering financial clinics, education sessions, personalised mobile communications on finances, savings options and debt management initiatives.”

Alongside the recommendations on financial wellbeing, The Mental Health at Work report asks employers to: * Talk – Break the culture of silence that surrounds mental health by taking the Time to Change Employers Pledge.

* Train – Invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees and first aid training in mental health to support line manager capability.

* Take action – Implement the practical guidance found in Business in the Community and Public Health England’s Mental Health toolkit for employers.

mental health stats workplace

Mental health statistics in the workplace

Awareness of mental health and how it impacts every other area of life is growing. Not only in hospitals and schools but also in the workplace. It’s common sense that happier employees will be more loyal, take fewer sick days and will be more focused and productive at work. Research confirms that mental health support at work is the way forward. Life is stressful, there are so many daily pressures and those fortunate employees that have an outlet will be the ones that can ‘reset to zero’ and get back to the job at hand.

Mental Health Statistics

  • 16% of UK employees called in sick because of stress in 2012/13 (Friends Life research, October 2013)
  • £460m – daily cost to employers in wasted wages due to sickness resulting from stress (Friends Life research, October 2013)
  • 19.9% – percentage of long-term absence caused by stress-related mental ill-health and home or family issues. (Group Risk Development, 2012 Employer Research )
  • 47% – percentage of UK employees with access to an EAP (UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAP Market Watch , published in July 2013)
  • 10% – average percentage of a workforce that will use an EAP, including online services (UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAP Market Watch , published in July 2013)
  • As many as 42% of employees call in sick claiming to be suffering from a physical illness when the real reason is a mental health issue, according to a report by health insurance provider BHSF.
  • The report, Hiding in plain sight: mental health in the workplace, published in September 2018, surveyed 1,001 full-time employees. The study found that over half of respondents (56%) suffered from stress, a third (36%) from anxiety and a quarter (25%) from depression.
  • Only 15% of respondents said they would tell their boss if they were struggling with mental health issues. Reasons for not divulging problems include fear of not being promoted, the information resulting in poor grading at assessment and being seen as a weak link in the team.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employees felt that mental health was stigmatised by either all or some of their colleagues.

Dr Philip McCrea, chief medical officer at BHSF, said: “The scale of this problem is huge, and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing.

“Although shocking, these findings don’t surprise me. This report must provide a reality check for employers who need to be more proactive and focus on early intervention. A more open culture must be created in workplaces across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

  • As many as 88% of respondents said work was either the main cause or a contributing factor to their mental health problems. However, only a fifth (21%) of employees received dedicated mental health support from their employer.
  • The average employee takes 8.4 sick days each year due to a mental health problem, according to the BHSF report.

Dr McCrea said: “Mental health is currently costing the UK economy billions, and the cost of non-intervention is far greater than the cost of intervention. It’s up to employers to take a proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace before it’s too late.

“Developing early intervention strategies is critical. This includes the provision of mental health first-aiders, providing adequate mental health training for managers and resilience-building for employees, among other things.”

  • A fifth (20%) of employer respondents organise counselling for their employees in order to support staff mental health, according to research by insurance organisation Aviva and the British Chambers of Commerce.
  • Their survey of 1,020 UK organisations also found that 35% of respondents provide flexible working options to help support employees with potential mental health problems.

The research also found:

  • 36% of respondents review individual workloads to help support staff with their mental health, while 18% train managers to better support employees.
  • 49% of respondents do not access occupational healthsupport for their staff from external bodies, and 10% are not aware of any available support.
  • 29% of respondents have seen an increase in the number of employees taking time off work for mental health reasons.
  • 33% of respondents have observed an increase in the length of time employees are taking off work because of mental health issues.

Adam Marshall , director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees, especially at a time when firms are facing severe challenges finding and retaining the skilled staff they need.

“While legions of [organisations] are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing. Our message today is that it is no longer acceptable for [employers] to ignore mental health in the workplace, and all [organisations] need to step up [its] game.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, added: “It is encouraging to see that more businesses are not only more aware of the topic of mental health in the workplace, but are also actively offering initiatives like flexible working options to help encourage a healthy work-life balance.

“It is, however, worrying to see almost a third of businesses have seen an increase in people taking time off for mental health reasons, and [while] some of this increase may be down to staff feeling more able to discuss the issue of mental health which is, in itself, good news, it also suggests that more can be done to help.”

Options for support

Thankfully, there are a number of options that can help support employees. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. CBT is most effective for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem. Many employers now recognise the benefits of online  CBT techniques. These tools are suitable for those with mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression.

Happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business. But if employers don’t provide their staff with the right training, support and tools, absenteeism is likely to become a growing concern.

Creating a culture of health is vital to an organisation’s success. Employees who feel that the employer they work for cares about their overall health and wellbeing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and are less likely to leave. Educating employees to ensure they are comfortable accessing self-help tools or calling helplines is also vital.



Source: employeebenefits.co.uk