Since the start of the pandemic, 2.3 million people have come forward for NHS talking therapies.
However, new figures released in January revealed that over 50% of people were concerned about their mental health last year, with around half also experiencing stress, anxiety, low mood or depression.
The majority did not seek professional help.
With such worrying figures, we were delighted to support the Health and Safety Executive’s new Working Minds campaign launched in November targeting five key industry sectors to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress.
According to HSE, while the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues is the number one reason for work-related illness. Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression. A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees’ mental health had worsened during the pandemic.
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon explained: “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 affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.
“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the Government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”
At the Farm Safety Foundation, we know that this is an issue in agriculture as 92% of farmers under 40 rated mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farming today in our annual tracker research published in October 2021. 85% of those interviewed also agreed that the issue of farm safety and mental health are directly linked. As this is something very much at the core of who were are as a charity, the Farm Safety Foundation is happy to champion the Agriculture element of this campaign and appeal for a culture change across Britain’s agricultural workplaces to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.
No matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace, not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety. They should also promote good working practices and an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.
The HSE’s Working Minds campaign can support small farming businesses by providing employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps in its ‘5 R’s’ to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.
To learn more about the Working Minds campaign, including the legal obligations, advice, and tools available, visit www.workright.campaign.gov.uk/working-minds