stressed employeeWork is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, more so that debt and financial problems or health concerns, according to a survey.

The second biggest cause of stress was debt and financial problems – cited by 30% of respondents – followed by health concerns (17%).

The survey of more than 2,000 people also found that stress often causes people to resort to alcohol and drugs to cope. More than half – 57% - say they drink after work and 14% drink during the working day to cope with workplace stress and pressure. Other common coping mechanisms cited were smoking (28%), taking antidepressants (15%), over-the-counter sleeping aids (16%) and prescribed sleeping tablets (10%).

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, a culture of fear and silence about them still pervades. Other key findings include:
• 1 in 5 have taken a day off sick because of stress, but 90% of those people cited a different reason for their absence
• 9% have resigned from a job due to stress and 1 in 4 have considered resigning due to work pressure
• 1 in 5 felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were overly stressed
• Of the 22% who have a diagnosed mental health problem, only 10% had told their boss about their diagnosis
• More than half of managers (56%) said they would like to do more to improve staff mental wellbeing but they needed more training and/or guidance and 46% said they would like to do more but it is not a priority in their organisation.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Work-related mental health problems are an issue too important for businesses to ignore. Our research shows that employees are still experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting their physical and mental health. We know that right now, 1 in 6 workers is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety and yet our survey tells us that most managers don’t feel they have had enough training or guidance to support them.

“Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t have to cost a lot. Our research shows that people whose organisations offered flexible working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their mental wellbeing. Three in 5 people said that if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of all staff, they would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a good place to work.”