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Anxiety is the leading mental health concern globally

9 May
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

In the UK alone, anxiety and depression affects approximately 8 percent of the population and contributes to around 20 percent of lost work days.

That means, in a team of 25, at least two individuals may be grappling with persistent anxiety. In larger companies with 500 employees, this number could escalate to 40, highlighting the importance of supporting employees’ mental health for both their well-being and the business’s success.

Supporting workers’ mental health has substantial financial implications, potentially saving UK businesses £8 billion annually. Workplaces with high levels of mental well-being tend to be more productive, with actions to improve mental well-being linked to a productivity increase of up to 12 percent.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to various stressors, whether related to work, personal life, or health. It’s characterised by feelings of unease, worry, or fear, ranging from mild to severe. For some individuals, anxiety becomes persistent, extending across multiple situations or issues, often with disproportionate fears compared to the circumstances. This sustained anxiety can significantly impact an individual’s daily life.

The triggers for anxiety vary widely, but common threads include:

  1. Financial concerns: The escalating cost of living exacerbates existing worries and widens the range of individuals affected.
  2. Personal conflicts: Relationship issues, whether with family, friends, or coworkers, can lead to emotional strain and mental distress.
  3. Substance misuse: Some individuals turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, which can further exacerbate anxiety.
  4. Work stress: Factors such as excessive workload, inadequate support, poor work-life balance, or a challenging work environment contribute to workplace anxiety.
  5. Health issues: Chronic medical conditions, their symptoms, medication side effects, and financial impact can all trigger anxiety.
  6. Traumatic life events: Events like childhood trauma or sudden loss can have a lasting impact on an individual’s mental well-being.
  7. Lack of community: Isolation resulting from life changes or remote work arrangements can lead to loneliness and exacerbate anxiety.

Effects of living with anxiety

Living with sustained anxiety takes a toll on both physical and mental health. Symptoms may include dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, sleep disturbances, constant dread, difficulty concentrating, and depression. Anxiety can also affect work performance, relationships, and contribute to substance misuse.

Supporting employees through anxiety

Supporting colleagues with anxiety is not only the right thing to do but also beneficial for the organisation’s overall productivity and well-being. Here are some strategies:

  1. Create connection: Foster a supportive work culture by promoting social connections through mentorship programmes, social events, or shared interest groups.
  2. Encourage conversation: Normalise discussions around mental health by maintaining an open-door policy, conducting mental health surveys, and providing access to health professionals and mindfulness resources.
  3. Signpost employees to resources: Offer educational resources on anxiety and mental health through newsletters, intranet pages, or dedicated apps.
  4. Consider working conditions: Address workplace stressors by providing training for managers to identify and support stressed employees, promoting work-life balance, and adjusting workloads accordingly.

By offering support and understanding to employees struggling with anxiety, companies can enhance employee well-being and productivity while fostering a supportive work environment.

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