Stress at work believed to be biggest cause of mental illness

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Work stress is the most commonly perceived cause of mental health problems, a survey has revealed. People believe problems at work cause more mental illness than other contributory factors such as marriage breakdown, bereavement or loneliness.

Work stress is the most commonly perceived cause of mental health problems, a survey has revealed. People believe problems at work cause more mental illness than other contributory factors such as marriage breakdown, bereavement or loneliness.

The survey for the charity Mind, published today to coincide with World Mental Health Day, aims to challenge the stigma of mental illness. The charity questioned 1,500 people who have donated money to Mind about their perceptions of mental illness.

It found that 61 per cent of people believed work stress was the main cause of mental problems, ranging from mild depression to severe illness.

Loneliness was thought to be a contributory factor by 59 per cent of those questioned; 55 per cent considered bereavement as damaging; traumatic events were regarded by 52 per cent as contributing to problems; 50 per cent believed the demands of modern life were a cause; and relationship problems were a factor, according to 50 per cent.

The results also showed that people with a high awareness of mental health issues were affected by the fear of admitting they might have a problem.

Of the Mind donors questioned, 27 per cent said they would lie to their boss if they had to take time off work because of mental stress, pretending they were suffering from physical rather than emotional problems.

Mind estimates that in any year, one in four adults will suffer from some form of mental distress or illness. The survey also found that 56 per cent believed children growing up in this decade would be more vulnerable to mental health problems.

A spokesman for Mind said: "We need to make the public aware of how it will become a more crucial issue in this new millennium."

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