A report has suggested that rising mental health illness among UK workers is directly attributable to worries related to the economic downturn.
The study by charity, Elizabeth Finn Care, and Roehampton University, found that 47% of people have experienced depressive symptoms during the recession – some four to five times higher than levels recorded amongst the general population before the slump.
Of those who have lost their jobs over the past year, 71% have suffered depressive symptoms. The figures show that people in the middle Social Economic Status (SES) groups are more likely to suffer from depression if they lose their jobs (59.8%), compared to those in the lower SES groups (44.9%) and the higher SES groups (46.7%).
Among those who had experienced a drop in salary or cut in their hours or days, 51% said they had experienced symptoms of depression, 48% said the same for anxiety and 45% experienced stress symptoms.
Young people (aged 16 to 30 years) were found to be most likely to be suffering from depressive symptoms than any other age group in the recession, with 43% suffering from anxiety and 45% from stress.
Malcolm Tyndall, Director at Elizabeth Finn Care, said:
"We already know that the cost of mental health problems to business before the recession was over £1,000 per employee per year or up to £26bn across the UK economy. If this report demonstrates anything, it is now not the time to cut funding in this area, as is already happening in some health authorities. If the Government cannot be persuaded to ensure funding out of a duty of care to those who have been affected, perhaps it will be persuaded by the negative economic impact this could have on already struggling businesses due to lost work days and falls in productivity."
Principal Lecturer, Dr Joerg Huber, of Roehampton University, said:
“What makes our findings worrying is the high percentage of people reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. This applies even more so to those who have lost their job or experienced a major loss of income.
"Given the continued economic challenges these individuals are exposed to, and the acknowledgement by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that depression is frequently not noticed during visits to GP practices, these symptoms may become chronic, which will create a vicious cycle of depression, related disability and an inability to work."