Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Work Is Making You Mentally Ill

Reports says work is affecting the mental health of thousands every year. How are businesses dealing with anxiety, depression and stress?

Sathnam Sanghera

Workplace “stress” is now the second-biggest occupational health problem in the UK after musculoskeletal conditions and, according to a World Health Organisation report, “depression” is the fourth most significant cause of suffering and disability after heart disease, cancer and traffic accidents. By 2020 it will rank second, behind heart disease. It’s no surprise that calculations vary as to what this might cost British business in lost productivity. Different reports have put the annual cost at £3 billion, £9 billion and a massive £32 billion. But the extent of the problem is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that in 2006, BT admitted that it had about 500 people off sick with psychiatric problems every single day.

What’s going on? In many ways our lives and careers are more comfortable than ever. Unemployment, the Government keeps on telling us, is very low. Most of us don’t work down tin mines but in shiny, air-conditioned shops and offices. Foreign holidays have never been more obtainable, social networking sites tell us that we have hundreds of friends apiece and we can get the complete series 1-6 box set of The Sopranos for just £49. Yet we still appear to be on the brink of an epidemic of madness and misery.

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