37% believe stress-related absence has increased over past year


More than one-third (37%) of respondents report that stress-related absence has increased over the past year and only 8% have seen a decrease, according to research by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and SimplyHealth.

The Health and wellbeing at work report, which surveyed 1,000 HR professionals, also found that only 6% of organisations have a standalone health policy, however, 37% of respondents are raising awareness of mental health across the workforce.

The research also found that:

  • 55% of UK organisations have seen an increase in the number of reported common mental health conditions over the last 12 months, compared to 41% in 2016.
  • 22% cite mental ill health as the primary cause of long-term absence from work in the UK compared with 13% in 2016.
  • 53% agree that their organisation encourages openness about mental health and is effective at supporting people with mental ill health.
  • 59% say their organisation has a supportive framework in place to recruit employees with mental health issues and 60% to retain people with a disability or long-term health condition.

The report also found that the level of employee absence from mental health issues is on, average, 6.6 days annually, per employee.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at CIPD, said: “We’re seeing a significant increase in the number of reported mental health issues among employees in UK organisations. While it might be that more people are feeling that they can disclose a mental health issue, the links between increased stress at work and mental health issues cannot be ignored. It’s crucial that the right measures are in place to care for everyone’s mental health at work, and employers are proactive rather than reactive in their approach to supporting employee wellbeing as a whole.

“In order to do this, line managers need to have the training and guidance to feel confident and ready to have conversations with employees about their mental wellbeing, and support them in the right way. Our research finds that organisations with managers who are able to effectively promote good mental health are less likely to have seen an increase in reported common mental health conditions, which shows how crucial that capability is.

“It’s also vital that senior leaders are visibly committed to encouraging good mental well-being, acting as role models and champions throughout their organisation. Only by challenging any potential stigma and increasing awareness around mental health at work can we start to break the silence and start to build more open and inclusive workplaces.”