Work a key factor in depression and anxiety


We spend so much of our lives at work and I truly believe that a great deal more can be done to ensure that the design of the work itself, the environment, and manager's style in relation to each ...

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​More than a third of UK professionals suffer from depression or anxiety, with work a key contributor

In CV-Library's research of 1,200 workers, four in 10 (42.9%) admitted that their job plays a significant role in undermining their mental health, with doubting their abilities the most common work-related cause (cited by 34.6%).

Having a boring job (26.6%) and not getting on with their boss (22.6%) were also cited.

Both working alone (17.8%) and interacting with customers and clients (17%) negatively affected some workers’ mental health, suggesting that both loneliness/isolation and dealing with other people can compromise mental health.

The research found that, of those who reported suffering from poor mental health, 70.6% said their depression or anxiety can sometimes have a negative effect on their working life. A further 17.9% said it always has such an impact.

When it came to how depression and anxiety affect people’s ability to do their job, 47.4% said it makes them dread going in to work. Additionally, 24.2% said it makes them feel tired, 8% said it causes them to take time off, and 7.4% said it means they don’t really speak to colleagues.

The CV-Library survey coincides with research from Qualtrics, which found that 45% of UK workers say they are too tired to work effectively at least half the time. It also found that only 54% are happy with their current work/life balance.

The survey also coincides with the release of research from VitalityHealth showing that employees lose an average of 30.4 working days each year because of sickness and underperformance as a result of ill-health.

Research from VitalityHealth's 2017 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey shows productivity loss due to physical and mental health issues is costing the UK economy an estimated £77.5 billion a year. This is up from 27.5 days and £73 billion respectively in 2016.

The CV-Library research found that 37.7% of professionals’ employers do nothing to help those that suffer from mental ill health. A further 38.4% said that they were unsure whether their boss would help them if needed.

When it came to solutions, the majority (88.4%) believed that employers should be given training to help them better understand mental health. A third (32.7%) believed that regular one-to-one catch ups could help. After this, 26.8% believed paid mental health days (time off) could help, and 19.8% said they’d appreciate professional help.

“Not only is promoting workplace wellbeing the responsible thing to do, but it also makes good business sense,” commented Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind. “Employers that invest in the mental health of their employees are likely to save money in the long run; through improved staff morale and productivity, as well as employees needing less time off sick.

“Surveying staff is a good way to identify problems within the organisation and then put in place measures to tackle these,” Mamo told HR magazine. “This information can be used by employers to help nip problems in the bud before they worsen and lead to high levels of stress-related absence.

"Small, inexpensive initiatives such as flexible working hours, regular catch-ups with managers and confidential support lines such as employee assistance programmes are just some of the things employers should be doing to help staff struggling with their mental health or stress.”


An interesting article, but let's not forget the important role work can play in keeping people mentally healthy through meeting key emotional needs for achievement, respect/status, meaning and purpose, and community. Surveys are a good way of identifying whether there is a problem, but can often miss the root cause of an issue. Having a sick day for mental health can be part of a solution, but unless the underlying issue and the unmet need is addressed, the person will either need more time off or will just become stressed again. Workplaces need to become environments that help people to get their emotional needs met. That way mental ill health can be prevented and workforces will become more motivated and therefore productive.


We spend so much of our lives at work and I truly believe that a great deal more can be done to ensure that the design of the work itself, the environment, and manager's style in relation to each individual is tailored to match what's important to that person and is "good" work. These often don't need to be big changes! Some people will want more freedom and autonomy, others security, routine and stability. What's essential is to identify the conditions which match a person's core intrinsic drivers and take action to meet them, enabling the person to thrive. These drivers change over time. Survey information can be very useful and in my experience, using the Motivational Maps tool is even more so, because it increases self-awareness of our drivers and is a foundation of honest and open conversations with line managers and colleagues. Helping people make better job and career choices, creating the very best conditions, which enable people to perform at their best, assisting organisations to tailor their reward strategies and often scarce resources in the appropriate areas to achieve success for all is my mission!


I have worked and had mental illness my whole life. It is only like someone who has a heart condition or diabetes. We learn how to live with it in time, find the right treatment plan and, for me, choose the right job that keeps us feeling well and in good balance. I can have a conversation with my boss and it's ok. He asks "how is your mental health Jayne? Any ups or downs we need to know about? Any work that's having a negative effect? Do you need more or less? He asks this with sincere interest and acts accordingly without prejudice. It helps us have an honest and productive working relationship and because of that I go much further for him and the company. I thrive at work.

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