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One third of working Britons concerned about a co-worker’s mental health

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Corporate / Mental Health / United Kingdom

One third of working Britons concerned about a co-worker’s mental health

Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index™ for December continues to trend below the pre-2020 benchmark, with optimism lower than it was in April 2020

LONDON, January 13, 2021 – 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 consistently negative mental health score among Britons for the ninth consecutive month. The findings show that ongoing lack of optimism, depression and anxiety continue to impact the mental wellbeing of Britons.

The Mental Health Index™ score is -12.8, an improvement from November (-13.7). The score measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. The Mental Health Index™ also tracks sub-scores against the benchmark, measuring financial risk (5.3), psychological health (-5.3), isolation (-11.7), work productivity (-12.1), anxiety (-14.6), depression (-15.0) and optimism (-17.3). When compared to the previous month, all sub-scores observed slight increases in December except for financial risk, which declined 0.2 points when compared to November. Optimism has declined by 0.9 points since April 2020 and overall psychological health has declined by 3.1 points, while financial risk has improved by 4.0 points due to an increase in savings. Financial risk continues to be the strongest of all sub-scores and is currently above the pre-pandemic benchmark.

“Despite the beacon of hope provided by COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out in many parts of the world, the increase in cases across several regions in the United Kingdom and newly imposed lockdown restrictions in some areas are taking a serious toll on Britons’ mental health,” said Philip Mullen, managing director, U.K. and Europe. “Britons continue to experience immense mental strain both inside and outside the workplace, and it is essential that employers continue to provide ongoing resources and support to ensure employee wellbeing remains strong. This is a critical time for employers to demonstrate that mental health continues to be a top priority, in order to both support employees and improve their bottom line.”

Many Britons concerned about the impact of the pandemic on co-workers
As the pandemic persists into its ninth month, Britons are seeing its impact on others, including their co-workers. Overall, 33 per cent of respondents report being concerned about a co-worker’s mental health. Faced with the additional strain of managing a prolonged turbulent period in their workplace, 30 per cent of supervisors indicate concern about the mental health of employees and 26 per cent report that their employees are less productive than in 2019.

Encouragingly, despite ongoing non-essential travel restrictions, nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents report using all their vacation time in 2020, compared to 40 per cent who are not using all their vacation time. This is a significant factor in terms of employee mental health, as individuals who are not using all their vacation have the lowest mental health score (-13.8), compared to those who have used their vacation time (-11.5) or do not have any paid time off (-13.3).

For nine months, since significant measures were taken in managing the pandemic, Britons have had to adapt to changing conditions in all aspects of their lives, including at work. Individuals report that the most stressful part of adapting at work during the pandemic is health and safety protocols (32 per cent), followed by job uncertainty (28 per cent), and work strain/overwork (25 per cent). The lowest mental health score (-21.6) is observed among the 25 per cent of individuals who report work strain/overwork as the most stressful part of adapting at work during the pandemic.

“Even as we deal with concern about increasing infection, we are still adjusting to significant impact of the pandemic so far,” said Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing. “Those employers who have supported their mental health employees well and consistently have had a significant positive impact and will benefit from that for some time to come.”

Brand loyalty dependent on treatment of stakeholders and response to social justice issues
The pandemic has upended organisations across the country. The treatment of employees and customers, along with an organisation’s response to social justice issues, have been essential to brand loyalty. The perception of how an organisation has treated its employees during the pandemic could have both immediate and long-lasting impacts on its success, given 50 per cent of respondents report that the way they think about and interact with brands and companies has been influenced by how their employees have been treated during the pandemic. Customer treatment also plays a significant role, with 57 per cent of respondents also indicating that how an organisation has treated its customers during the pandemic has influenced the way they think about and interact with brands and companies.

The way organisations have responded to social justice issues has had a similar impact on consumer perception, with 37 per cent of respondents reporting that the way they think about and interact with brands and companies has been influenced by the way they respond to social justice issues. This is especially true for individuals under the age of 40 (52 per cent), when compared to those 40 and older (31 per cent), corresponding with the influx of anti-Black racism awareness following the high-profile death of Black American, George Floyd, in June 2020.

Upcoming event: Members of the media who are interested in attending Employers Connect, Morneau Shepell’s annual mental health summit that will be held virtually on Wednesday, February 17 at 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. GMT, should RSVP to

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly Mental Health Index™ by Morneau Shepell was conducted through an online survey from November 20 to November 30, 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

Angela Pinzon
Kaiser & Partners