A quarter of UK employees feel ashamed to cite stress for missing work

A third of UK employees have taken a day off work due to stress, finds new research from insurance firm Aviva. 

Government figures say that 15 million working days a year are being lost because of stress and mental illness. Photo credit: Fotolia 

The report revealed that 33 per cent of respondents blamed their absence on a physical illness because of the stigma associated with stress.

More than a quarter of people cited money as their main cause of stress (27 per cent), followed by relationships (15 per cent), health (13 per cent) and work (13 per cent).

The results released to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day (2nd November), highlights the need for employers to focus on the wellbeing of their staff, Aviva said. 

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Steve Bridger, Managing Director of Group Protection at Aviva, said: “In 2016 people should not feel that they have to hide their stress away and suffer in silence. Feeling that you can’t be open about a problem is likely to make it worse, not better. People don’t raise an eyebrow if a colleague is off work with flu, but anything to do with mental health still appears to be taboo.

“The most recent government figures say that 15 million working days a year are being lost because of stress and mental illness It’s really encouraging to see that some people are feeling more comfortable and confident about being open on mental health in the workplace. 

“That trend needs to continue. This can be helped by creating a culture within an organisation which is open and supportive. Line manager training programmes can help identify people who may be suffering with a problem while access to external support such as an Employee Assistance Programme can offer fast and direct support when it’s needed.

“Mental wellbeing is a dynamic spectrum that applies to all of us, rather than just a few people some of the time. We all experience stress to varying degrees at some point in our lives so it is something we can all relate to. I hope events such as National Stress Awareness Day can encourage more of us to talk about mental health issues instead of keeping it a secret.”

Across the UK, 25 per cent of those surveyed have taken a day off because of stress at some stage of their career. Based on the number of people working in the UK, it suggests that nearly eight million people are suffering in silence.

The survey also found that more than half of men (53 per cent) who had taken a day off work with stress at some stage in their career said they had done so in the last year, compared to just a third of women (34 per cent).

The survey of 2,000 UK adults was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva (Sept 2016)



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