HSE continues its focus on mental health and stress

  • Market Insight 27 September 2023 27 September 2023
  • UK & Europe

  • Insurance

One of the key objectives set out in the HSE Strategy for 2022 to 2032, is a commitment over the next 10 years to reduce work-related ill health, with a specific focus on mental health and stress.

The reasoning provided for this strategic aim was that although Great Britain has one of the lowest rates of fatal and non-fatal work-related injury across Europe, this isn’t the same for work-related ill health.

Indeed, in Great Britain the most commonly reported causes of work-related ill health are now stress, depression, or anxiety. The HSE published statistics for 2021/22, which revealed that of the 1.8 million workers who suffered from a work-related illness, 914,000 were stress, depression or anxiety related.  

Similarly from a financial perspective a recent report by Deloitte estimated that the total annual cost of poor mental health to employers has increased by 25% since 2019. The cost to UK employers is now up to £56 billion per year.

The HSE has made plain that whether an employer is a small business or a large corporation, the law requires all employers to prevent work-related stress, in order to support good mental health in the workplace.

As part of this process, work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove, or reduce it, as far as is reasonably practicable.

The HSE’s website does explain it will only consider investigating potential issues of work-related stress where there is evidence that several employees are experiencing work-related stress, or related ill health, and that there is evidence of a wider organisational failing.

In support of HSE’s strategic aim to reduce work-related ill health it launched the Working Minds campaign. This is designed to bring together a range of tools and support, to help businesses and workers understand the best ways to prevent work-related stress and encourage good mental health.

The most recently announced addition to the Working Minds campaign, is a stress campaign designed to assist HGV drivers. The campaign, launched in conjunction with the Road Haulage Association, is introduced following an acceptance that more needs to be done to protect Britain’s HGV drivers from work-related stress.

Elizabeth Goodwill, from the HSE’s Stress and Mental Health Policy Team said: “HGV drivers keep the country and our economy moving. It’s therefore vital employers meet their legal duty to ensure risks of stress and mental ill health are factored into risk assessments”.

As part of this campaign a talking toolkit and example stress risk assessments have been made available in order to assist businesses. 

The HSE’s ongoing focus regarding mental health and stress at work, is an attempt to reduce the number of working days lost each year. The HSE’s statistics for 2021/2022 revealed that 17.0 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.


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