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Almost half of working Britons want mental-health support; lack of energy a barrier for some

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Corporate / Mental Health / United Kingdom

Almost half of working Britons want mental-health support; lack of energy a barrier for some

LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ shows that while Britons’ mental health is improving slightly, significant work to improve remains

LONDON, May 27, 2021 – LifeWorks Inc., a leading provider of technology-enabled total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, revealing a negative mental-health score among Britons for the thirteenth consecutive month. The Mental Health Index™ score for April is -11.9. Negative scores indicate a lower level of mental health compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark.

The April 2021 score is slightly higher than it was in March 2021 (-12.5). In April, the majority of sub-scores showed improvement over the previous month. The optimism sub-score improved the most when compared to March, increasing almost two points (from -16.5 to -14.7 month-over-month) and reaching its highest point since April 2020. While this is positive, Britons’ mental health remains at significant risk and well below the pre-pandemic benchmark.

“We have reached a point in the pandemic where we are seeing signs of an end to pandemic restrictions which may be contributing to the increase in optimism this month,” said Philip Mullen, managing director, U.K. and Europe. “Even with a reduction in the level of risk, with new variants, the pandemic risk may continue for some time. It is important to remember that just because someone needs mental health support, it does not mean that they will reach out to get it. Emotional exhaustion, stigma and other factors can get in the way. Continuous communication about resources, empathy and manager training on mental-health referrals make an important difference in helping people get what they need.”  

Lack of energy to seek out mental-health support remains significant concern for Britons
Despite relentless efforts to increase awareness about the long-term implications of declining mental health, some Britons have been reluctant to access mental-health support due to several barriers. To date, 46 per cent of respondents feel some need for support, comprised of 29 per cent have taken steps to improve their mental health and another 17 per cent have not taken steps but would like to. Within the latter group, 26 per cent report that a lack of energy to seek care as the greatest barrier to mental-health improvement, followed by uncertainty about the proper care for their needs (22 per cent), no interest in prioritizing mental health at this time (21 per cent) and uncertainty about where to access care (20 per cent). The research also revealed that individuals identifying as female were more likely to report a lack of available care (21 per cent) as the top barrier to obtaining mental health support (compared to 12 per cent of individuals identifying as males). Meanwhile, individuals identifying as male were more likely to report uncertainty about where to get care (23 per cent) compared to 17 per cent of those identifying as female.

“The United Kingdom and the rest of the world has gone through more than a year of major upheaval. The stress and trauma of this has made its mark. While there will likely be some improvement with a reduction in the pandemic related risk, the impact of such a prolonged period of strain will continue for some time,” said Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing. “Employers should understand that the workforce will not be exactly the same as it was before the pandemic started. Continued empathy, flexibility and support will be as important going forward as it was at the start.”

Britons’ outlook for the future influenced by reduced restrictions and vaccines
In April, the research found that one quarter (25 per cent) of Britons reported that their outlook would be helped by there being no more restrictions of any kind, followed by 24 per cent employees’ outlook being influenced by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and 16 per cent of employees’ looking forward to the population reaching herd immunity. These groups also reported the most favourable mental health scores (-9.2, -10.1 and -9.8, respectively).

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted through an online survey from March 22 to April 2, 2021, 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, 2019. Click here to read the U.K. Mental Health Index™ report.

About LifeWorks
LifeWorks is a global leader in delivering technology-enabled solutions that help clients support the total wellbeing of their people and build organizational resiliency. By improving lives, we improve business. Our solutions span employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement and financial consulting, actuarial and investment services. LifeWorks employs approximately 7,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in more than 160 countries. For more information, visit


Heather MacDonald

Angela Pinzon
Kaiser & Partners