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Almost half of working Britons say they need mental health support

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Corporate / Mental Health / United Kingdom

Almost half of working Britons say they need mental health support

Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index™ for October continues to trend well below the pre-pandemic benchmark, declining from -12.0 in September to -13.4 in October

LONDON, November 12, 2020 – Morneau Shepell, a leading provider of total wellbeing, mental health and digital mental health services, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, revealing a consistent trend of negative mental health among Britons at the seven-month mark of the pandemic. The Mental Health Index™ for October is -13.4, showing that Britons’ mental health continues to be at risk, with declining workplace productivity and the need for mental health support adding to the continuing mental strain of the pandemic.

The Mental Health Index™ score, which measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75, is significantly lower than September (-12.0). This trend is displayed across all sub-scores tracked in The Mental Health Index™, including financial risk (3.8), psychological health (-4.2), isolation (-11.6), depression (-15.9), anxiety (-15.9) and optimism (-18.2).

Given the prolonged period of increased strain, 40 per cent of the British population report needing some form of mental health support. The most commonly reported source of mental health support is from family members (20 per cent), followed by support from friends or co-workers (14 per cent) and support from a mental health professional (four per cent). Additionally, 10 per cent of respondents indicate a need for support but have not sought it. This group has the lowest mental health score (-36.5).

Work productivity declines seven months into the pandemic
Workplace productivity declined in October to -11.8, compared to -11.0 in September. As many employees continue to work remotely for the seventh consecutive month, increased workplace flexibility is helping to keep them motivated. Among 79 per cent of respondents who report having flexible work hours, 35 per cent indicate that having flexible work hours helps their productivity. This group’s mental health score is the highest (-12.1), compared to respondents who report that flexible work hours reduces their productivity (-28.7).

“Working remotely continues to present significant challenges to the working population, especially with new lockdown restrictions now in effect in many areas,” said Philip Mullen, managing director, U.K. and Europe. “Employees that are provided with increased flexibility to accommodate their unique and ever-changing needs are responding more positively than those without. It is evident that maintaining this level of flexibility is critical to not only improve Britons’ mental health, but also to ensure workplace productivity, employee motivation and ultimately, business continuity.”

Reduced salary more detrimental to Britons’ mental health than unemployment or reduced hours
While most respondents remain employed (96 per cent), 17 per cent report reduced hours or salary since April 2020. Individuals reporting reduced salary when compared to the prior month have the lowest mental health score (-21.8), followed by those reporting fewer hours (-19.9) and those not currently employed (-15.1). Despite working fewer hours, 40 per cent of respondents reported putting in more effort at work.

“The continuous feeling of instability felt by working Britons poses a significant threat to their long-term wellbeing, both inside and outside of the workplace,” said Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation. “Employees are demonstrating that they are willing to put in the effort. The onus lies on employers and government to do their part by providing increased support and ensuring the mental health of Britons is taken just as seriously as their physical health.”

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly survey by Morneau Shepell was conducted through an online survey in English from September 28 to October 19, 2020, with 2,000 respondents in the United Kingdom. All respondents reside in the United Kingdom and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The full U.K. report can be found at

The Mental Health Index™ is owned by Morneau Shepell – the wellbeing company that acquired LifeWorks in 2018.

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is a leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee wellbeing through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. For more information, visit

Heather MacDonald
Morneau Shepell

Catherine Snider
Kaiser & Partners