One in six (17%) employees have been forced to take time out from their career because of stress or mental health pressures, a survey shows.
The research from AIG Life found almost one-fifth (19%) of non-retired females have taken time out from their career because of mental health pressures compared to 15% of men.
Overall, almost two-thirds (63%) of employees have taken an enforced or voluntary break during their career, lasting on average 14 months.
Women are typically out of the workforce for longer than men, at an average of 15.8 months compared to 11.7 months.
Physical health issues are responsible for almost one in 10 employment breaks and the same proportion are the result of employees taking time out to care for a relative.
The survey also found 14% of people have taken time out from their career to cope with bereavement or to take extended compassionate leave.
The research suggests that when people take a break from working, they can struggle to return to employment at the salary and responsibility level they held previously.
Almost a third (30%) of people returning to the workforce after a break said they were pushed sideways or were forced to take a lower skilled or paid job.
Only 14% of those on a career break were able to return to the same career or industry sector at a higher grade than before.
Debbie Bolton, head of customer operations and chief underwriter at AIG Life, said the country’s mental health crisis is having a profoundly negative impact on individuals, employers and UK plc.
“The good news is there are solutions available to help organisations support their employees. Resilience training, wellbeing programmes, early identification of situations where individuals would appreciate help and intervention schemes are crucial to help employees struggling with stress and mental health pressures,” she added.