New Data Reveals the Top Mental Health Challenges Facing UK Employers


Leading workplace well-being consultancy and counselling service, TERC, has analysed data from over 100,000 counselling sessions with UK employees to reveal the mental health and wellness trends facing workplaces across the country right now.

1. Financial stress

With the cost of living crisis continuing to weigh heavily on households across the UK, TERC is seeing a huge rise in the number of employees seeking counselling due to finance-related stress. In fact, there was a 48% increase in the number of TERC clients who were dealing with financial pressures between 2022 and 2023. And, with this number rising month-on-month, employers should expect to continue to see staff impacted by money-related stress in the months to come and consider strategies to support those struggling. For example, offering access to financial education and more flexible working when needed.

2. An open dialogue about anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression consistently remain amongst the most common reasons for people seeking counselling services, coming in second after stress. However, cases of depression are rising, with TERC seeing a 40% increase in depression and low mood diagnoses in the last 12 months alone.

Whilst, on the surface, this trend might seem concerning, the spike is partly due to more people seeking help than ever before. This is a positive step for both those suffering and employers. But, as this trend continues, it does mean that businesses will be under more pressure than ever before to provide support channels for those who choose to open up about their mental health and need further help.

3. The impact of our ageing population

With the average age for retirement steadily rising, employers should prepare for this to have an increasing effect on their workforce’s mental health. Older workers have a wealth of experience and knowledge, but they also face their own unique set of challenges. For example, they might be managing a physical health condition, facing ageism in the workplace, or grappling with the prospect of retirement and the huge lifestyle change this brings.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the average age of people seeking help for their mental health is increasing, with a higher proportion of employees aged 60 and over using TERC’s counselling services than ever before.

For employers, this trend means there will be a greater onus on finding well-being initiatives that benefit every generation in the workforce, including older workers who are often less comfortable opening up about their mental health.

4. Addiction

The number of people battling with addiction in the UK is increasing, with ONS data showing that levels of drug use rose by 17% in 2023. Yet, the number of people seeking treatment for addiction via Employee Assistance Programmes remains incredibly low. Just 61 of TERC’s 2.1 million registered users entered the service due to issues with addiction in 2023.

This is a growing challenge for employers. Addiction can have a major impact on employee wellbeing and performance if left unaddressed. So, businesses will be under pressure to destigmatise the topic and create an environment in which staff feel safe seeking support for addiction and related mental health challenges.

5. Neurodiversity diagnoses

With data from University College London revealing that ADHD diagnoses have increased 20-fold in the last two decades, and diagnoses of conditions like autism also rising, it’s never been more important for employers to have support strategies in place to enable neurodiverse employees to thrive at work.

However, as awareness of neurodiverse conditions increases, there is also a growing trend of employers and line managers labelling their staff themselves, instead of encouraging them to seek professional assessment. Whilst encouraging employees to develop a greater understanding of their mind and how they work best has huge business benefits, this trend of unqualified diagnoses is dangerous and could contribute to staff failing to seek the treatment they need if it continues.

Commenting on the new insights, Tracey Paxton, Chief Clinical Officer at TERC, said: “Our data shows that more employees across the UK are seeking support with their mental health than ever before. This is incredibly encouraging as we know that improved mental wellbeing not only transforms lives, but also leads to more engaged and effective workforces. Our analysis suggests that employers can expect this trend to continue over the next 12 months, with more staff opening up about conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.

“However, there are some conditions that remain taboo in the workplace, such as age-related mental health issues and addiction, with very few people seeking help from their employers, despite cases increasing. Whilst employers can’t and shouldn’t attempt to ‘fix’ every issue facing their employees, they can support those struggling by creating a culture where employees feel safe to discuss issues of all kinds and provide appropriate support channels to refer staff who need help.

“We hope that these insights into the most common mental health challenges facing UK workers will better equip employers and line managers to identify issues amongst staff and provide them with the support they need to become the happiest, healthiest, and most productive versions of themselves.”

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Posted by: Branwell Ford