Anxiety and depression among UK workers up nearly a third in four years, figures show

Exclusive: Rates of anxiety and depression among employees has soared by nearly a third since records began in 2013, prompting calls for ‘urgent action’

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 10 October 2017 00:13 BST
Rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees is up 30.5 per cent since 2013, research shows
Rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees is up 30.5 per cent since 2013, research shows

Anxiety and depression among workers in the UK has hit a record high, rising by nearly a third in the last four years, new figures reveal.

Research by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), seen exclusively by The Independent, shows that rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees has soared by 30.5 per cent since records began in 2013.

Part-time workers appear to be bearing the brunt, with the figure among this group having risen by more than a third (33.6 per cent) in the same period.

The findings, published on Mental Health Awareness Day, have prompted urgent calls for the Government to ensure better mental health provision in the workplace, with campaigners urging the Government to “speed up” on delivering a review into the issue that was promised earlier this year.

Collated from a GP Patient Survey with 781,174 respondents – 346,465 of whom were in full time employment and 105,040 who were part-time workers, the findings show that rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among workers have risen from just over 7 per cent in 2013 to nearly 10 per cent in 2017.

In 2013, the rate for those in full-time employment was 6.85 per cent, in 2017 this has risen to 8.89 per cent – a rise of 29.7 per cent. For those in part-time employment the rate of 8.66 per cent in 2013 has risen to 11.57 per cent in 2017 – a rise of 33.6 per cent.

There were also rises across the population as a whole, although these were lower, with rates of moderate to extreme anxiety or depression among the population as a whole having increased by 15 per cent in the same period.

The results also showed that access to therapy remains restricted, with only 17 per cent of people with common mental health problems currently able to access publicly provided therapy services.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, told The Independent: “These alarming figures should be a wake-up call for the Tory Government which is complacent about mental health.

“Anxiety and depression among workers has risen steeply under the Tories, yet for all their warm words they have still not delivered a plan to deal with mental ill health in the workplace.”

The chief executive of UKCP, Professor Sarah Niblock, meanwhile describe the figures as “extremely worrying”, urging that it will save money in the long-term if the provision of psychotherapies is improved now.

“It is extremely worrying. Ministers must realise that the crisis is here, and the crisis is now,” she said.

“The Government promised a review of workplace practices and mental health back in January – but we’re still waiting for this to materialise. This work must be sped up, as workers cannot wait.

“Compared with the potential cost to the economy in lost productivity, high quality psychotherapies are cheap.”

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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