As many as 23 million people in the UK could be struggling with poor mental wellbeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll suggests.
And employers have been urged to do more to support the mental health of their staff during the crisis.
The research, carried out by not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden Health, showed that 35% of people are thought to be struggling with their mental wellbeing as a result of the pandemic.
Many say that support from employers could help ease the stress they are experiencing day-to-day.
The poll of more than 1,000 people found that nearly one in five who are experiencing poor mental wellbeing said work is causing them the most stress in their daily lives, with 11% concerned about losing their job and 8% stressed by their workload.
Having children at home was also identified as a key stress factor, with more than half (58%) of parents whose mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by the pandemic saying balancing working from home and childcare was having an impact.
More than one in ten (11%) parents who said their mental wellbeing had been negatively impacted by the pandemic said their employer is not being understanding of the requirements of working with children at home, leading to added pressure about professional performance as well as being “a good parent”.
More than a third of those surveyed (38%) said support from their employer would help with their poor mental wellbeing, and nearly a quarter of respondents said this would be improved if they knew their job was safe (22%).
Cheryl Lythgoe, Head Matron at Benenden Health, said: “While it’s not surprising to see the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had upon the mental health of the UK public, what is surprising is that businesses are missing the opportunity to take taking simple steps to help support their workforces and protect positive wellbeing at a time when many people are struggling.
“It’s harder to identify issues when teams are working remotely, on furlough or social distancing, so taking the time to check in with team members, holding regular video calls and company updates, and keeping people informed will go a long way in promoting positive mental health. We also recommend encouraging staff to take regular screen breaks, get exercise within the government guidance, and promote a clear work-life balance to help reduce stress.”
The research is available to download here.