Hybrid working model best for mental health

Employees who can split their working time between home and a formal workplace are 40 per cent less likely to experience mental health difficulties, new research has shown.

Youth mental health charity stem4 surveyed 1038 working parents and carers across the UK to mark Parent Mental Health Day today (27th January). It found that four in ten overall (39%) were experiencing mental health problems, most commonly stress (62%), depression (54%) and anxiety (50%).

When asked what had negatively impacted their mental health during the pandemic, 29 per cent identified work pressures - more than the number who cited factors such as relationship difficulties (15%). One in five (20%) said not being able to work had affected their mental wellbeing.

Four in ten (40%) people working from home, and the same number of those working outside their home, were experiencing mental health difficulties. However, those whose working patterns combined time at home with time at a formal workplace were significantly less likely to experience problems with their mental health (29%). Only one in five (19%) working parents say their employer currently allows hybrid working. Six in ten (57%) work solely from home, and one in four (23%) in a formal workplace (23%).

With so many people now struggling to find balance in their lives, the preliminary survey findings show that certain groups are now more likely to be experiencing mental health difficulties. These include carers and parents of adopted children (63%); single parents (52%); people on a low household hold income, i.e. £30k a year or less (49%); parents of children under the age of three (47%), and working parents on temporary contracts (46%).   

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and founder of stem4 said, “one of the few positive outcomes of the pandemic is that it’s provided with a unique opportunity to test how we can all work differently, and rethink working structures that create value, whether that’s a reduced commute for employees or increased productivity for the employer.  However, what this survey confirms is that as workers re-emerge from the pandemic they are not rested.  Because of two years of uncertainty, the blurring of the boundaries between home and work-life, less flexibility to relax in their usual ways such as going on holiday or seeing friends, means people are presenting with exhaustion and poorer mental health.    With one in four working parents now experiencing mental health difficulties, the pandemic has left people feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope, and lacking balance in their life, Hybrid working may afford employees the time they need to recover.”

The survey also explored the levels of support workers felt that they were receiving. Almost half (49%) said their employer had supported their mental health and wellbeing somewhat during the pandemic, with 23 per cent saying they had received a lot of support. However, 28 per cent said their employers had not supported their mental health at all.

Dr Krause added, “our survey shows that work can be a significant cause of stress, but also a valuable source of support. It’s hugely welcome that so many workers say they’ve had help from their employers. However, it’s a matter of concern that this varies so widely and that people working in the caring professions are among the least likely to feel supported themselves.”

The survey was carried out ahead of Parent Mental Health Day, a new annual campaign from stem4. The theme of this year’s campaign is balance and how to #TiptheBalance to positive.

 

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