Public sector workers are ‘more anxious’

Mental health charity Mind has revealed that public sector staff are more likely to feel anxious at work and take sick days for their mental health than those in the private sector.

Interviewing 12,000 UK employees about their mental health, the charity report that 48 per cent of those working in the public sector took time off for their well-being, compared with 32 per cent in the private sector.

Additionally, 15 per cent of public sector workers, of whom there are 5.4 million in the UK, believe that their mental health was poor, compared with nine per cent in private sector, with 53 per cent highlighting having felt anxious at work on several occasions over the last month, compared with 43 per cent of their private sector counterparts.

Public sector workers were reported to have taken an average of three sick days in the past year for a mental health issue, compared with an average of one sick day for those in the private sector. The Mental Health Foundation estimate that 70 million working days are lost each year to poor mental health.

However, while the research suggests that anxiety levels and poor mental health is higher in the public sector, it also found that public sector employees are more likely to seek help of confide in someone - with 90 per cent of those with a mental health problem in the public sector disclosing it to their employer, compared to 80 per cent in the private sector.

Nonetheless, only 49 per cent said they felt supported after disclosing mental health issues, compared with 61 per cent in the private sector.

Mind, who are campaigning for organisations to combat a ‘culture of fear and silence in the workplace’ towards mental issues, are urging the next government to make mental health in the workplace a ‘key priority’ in future policy decisions.

Paul Farmer, Mind's chief executive, said: “It's also vital that when people do speak out they get the right help and support at the right time. It's clear there is still a long way to go in both the public and private sector to address the gap between people asking for support and actually getting what they need.”

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