Last reviewed 19 November 2021

Work-related stress and poor mental health risk becoming a health and safety crisis for Great Britain’s workplaces, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.

Launching its new campaign, ‘Working Minds’, it explained that, while the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in the UK.

This meant that, last year, more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety or depression. Furthermore, a recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees’ mental health had worsened during the pandemic.

The new campaign aims to help businesses to recognise the signs of work-related stress and make tackling issues routine.

While it is specifically targeting six million workers in small businesses, the regulator is calling for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces, to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.

HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury. In terms of the effect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives”.

HSE is reminding businesses that, no matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace.

Rather than just considering potential hazards and physical safety, they should also promote good working practices. This promotes an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures, the regulator claims.

More information about the Working Minds campaign, including the legal obligations, HSE advice and tools available, can be found at https://workright.campaign.gov.uk/workingminds.