Mental Health is the Most Common Work Related Problem in UK and Ireland

 In Stress at Work

New research recently published in the Occupational Medicine Journal reveals that mental health disorders are the most common work related problem across the UK and Ireland.

The survey revealed that over half of all cases reported to Occupational Health physicians related to work related stress and other connected mental health disorders.

The research, as carried out by Manchester University, involved the study of data spanning from 2005 to 2012. It is understood that this is the first study of its kind which has specifically investigated the frequency of work related ill health incidences using comparable data across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Subsequent to the survey being published, the Society of Occupational Medicine has urged employers to do more to tackle mental health problems. They state that 1 in 4 adults will experience a mental health condition each year. Overall, mental health is thought to cost UK employers £26 billion each year which equates to costing an employee an average £1,035.00 per employee.

President of the Society of Occupational Medicine Dr Alasdair Emslie said:

“As demands on the NHS continue to increase the UK needs a radical rethink about how it delivers healthcare with a much greater focus on prevention. The workplace is the ideal environment to cost-effectively address a variety of health problems including supporting those with mental health problems. Early recognition of the signs of stress, anxiety and depression is the crucial first step in dealing with such problems and preventing them from becoming more serious.”

“Occupational health specialists have the ability to improve the health of thousands of workers by bringing in policies and wellbeing programmes – a General Practitioner can affect a tiny proportion of this number by seeing them one to one for a few minutes each year.”

One of the authors of the study Professor Raymond Agius said:

“This study shows that throughout the British Isles mental health problems account for over half of all work-related ill health reported by occupational physicians, and reinforces the need for more efforts in prevention and rehabilitation to foster mental wellbeing at work.”

“There is good evidence that better access to occupational health services and psychological support can help employees with mental health problems get back to work quickly.  However, it is more important that companies take a proactive approach and create a culture of ‘good work’ and promote positive employee wellbeing. By doing this they will not only increase productivity and reduce staff sickness and turnover but also reduce the burden on the NHS.”

From a legal perspective, employers have a duty of care to their employees to protect them from an injury to their health attributable to stress at work. There is a risk therefore that if employers fail to listen to and/or react responsibly to this newly publicised survey and subsequently fail in their duty of care, that they could be exposed to claims for compensation.

Those suffering with work related stress may be able to claim compensation for the impact matters have had on their health, the cost of any necessary treatment on a private paying basis and lost earnings from their employer.

The legal position for those who have suffered or who are suffering with stress at work is complex.

Oakwood Solicitors are specialists in these types of claims and are able to advise and assist you in respect of a claim.  

If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe you may have a claim against your employer, please call us on 0844 499 9302 or email 

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