AXA survey reveals mental health impact of pandemic

Findings from 'A Report on Mental Health & Wellbeing in Europe'

Adam Saville
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AXA survey reveals mental health impact of pandemic

Almost two thirds of UK and European workforce reporting increased levels of stress

A survey of 5,800 working and non-working people across the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland has revealed that 64% of those working in this region have seen work-related stress levels increase compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The findings published in A Report on Mental Health & Wellbeing in Europe, commissioned by AXA, also showed that eight in 10 (81%) suffering from increased stress levels described themselves as having a poor or low state of mind at the time of being surveyed.

Of the UK workers polled, 27% aged 25-34 said their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic compared with 17% of those aged 55-plus.

The survey also revealed how much working people have missed having personal encounters across the continent. Along with Spain (85%), Brits (82%) lead the way when it comes to missing physical contact with people outside of their direct household. France (78%), Italy (78%), Belgium (75%), Switzerland (73%) and Germany (65%) follow.

Dr Chris Tomkins, AXA Health head of wellbeing, said: "As the pandemic continues into winter, it's imperative that working people not only stay safe but also remember to look after their all-round health - and that employers and their health partners support this."

Working from home

When it comes to their ability to work from home, UK workers were less likely to say they ‘have to leave their house' to perform their job properly. Thirty-five percent said they could perform their job at home compared with an average of 31% for their European counterparts.

Dr Tomkins added: "For those who've switched to working from home there are new challenges. Your work now spills into your living room, kitchen and your family environment. So, it's important to put clear physical and psychological boundaries in place to ensure you're not slipping into being ‘always on' for work. Management should lead by example by sharing what works for them. Try to be disciplined with regular breaks and ‘time-outs' in your day, as these can be invaluable in helping you pause, re-energise and refocus.

"Also, if relevant, managers should consider redirecting savings from reduced travel and office costs into staff wellbeing and engagement - you'll need this with a more dispersed workforce.

"Employers and employees alike should remember not to view mental health in isolation. Rather, for a healthy life, we need a balance between our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Covid-19 has created a challenge to everyone's mental health and exposed vulnerabilities from physical health risks. Therefore, by understanding individuals' health and wellbeing as a whole, we can be proactive and take effective measures to safeguard their wellbeing - now, and in the future."

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