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UK workers report placing greater importance on their mental health than physical health

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After decades of negativity and stigma surrounding mental ill-health, there seems to have been a shift. Of course, there is still a long way to go in the battle against mental ill-health but two-thirds of workers in the UK consider their mental health more important than their physical health.

Coinciding with World Mental Health Day 2019, YouGov released a study that examines awareness and tracking of mental health in the workplace.

The results tell us:

  • Mental health still costs British companies £34.9bn annually, which is an average of about £1,300 per employee a year.
  • Two-thirds of workers (65%) consider their mental health to be very important, compared to less than half (44%) considering their physical health to be of equal importance.
  • 83% of employers now include mental health within their wellbeing strategy.

But should positive mental health be a priority over good physical health? No. They are of equal importance, and here is why...

Why mental health and physical health are equally important

There is often a clear distinction made between mental health and physical health, but actually the two are not as dissimilar as you might’ve thought!

Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health complications. On the other hand, ill-mental health can negatively impact somebody’s physical health, leading to an increased risk of poor physical conditions.

How can mental-ill health affect physical health?

Various studies indicate mental-ill health negatively affects physical health.

A study on the health data of 15,418 retirees found that anxiety and depression had similar effects on physical health as smoking.

Those who were living with high levels of anxiety and depression were 65% more likely to develop a heart condition, 64% more likely to have a stroke, 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure, and 87% more likely to have arthritis than the people who did not have either anxiety or depression.

The Kings Fund has a page on its website that details the connection between mental and physical health. They state that around 30% of all people with a long-term physical health condition also have a mental health problem, that is most commonly depression/anxiety

To conclude, both mental health and physical health should be of the utmost importance to an individual, as not taking care of either can often lead to devastating consequences.

If you’re struggling with ill-mental health, there are plenty of services in the UK that can offer you guidance. The Samaritans offer somebody to listen to as a 24/7 service. They operate nationally and can be contacted on 116 123.

Alternatively, if you run a business and you want to help your staff to look out for the symptoms of mental-ill health, we offer a range of Online Mental Health & Wellbeing courses designed for all levels of staff.

You can claim a no-obligation free trial to any of the courses today!

Online Mental Health Awareness Courses