New Vhi Health Insights Report on Mental Health in the Corporate Workplace finds mental health is a growing concern for all employees

Women, those under 34 and people in the tech sector most concerned about their mental health

Resilience amongst younger workers has emerged as a significant issue with high levels of dissatisfaction cited

20th June 2018 – Vhi today published the first in a series of in-depth research reports into the health of Ireland’s corporate employees. The Vhi Health Insights report, which focused on mental health in the workplace, was overseen by an expert group (1) and the research was conducted by B&A(2). The report identified that a high proportion of corporate employees in Ireland suffer from concerning levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The report also identified a lack of resilience amongst those under 34, while employees across all age groups expressed deep dissatisfaction with their lives.

The report presents worrying levels of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and stress amongst a significant proportion of the working population.  Those under 34 tend to characterise their levels of stress as problematic rather than as part of the normal cut and thrust of life. This indicates a lack of resilience amongst this age cohort.

The key findings of the report are: 

  • Only 16 per cent of those surveyed said that they were extremely satisfied with their lives while 21 per cent- essentially one in five people are extremely or very stressed.
  • Despite the fact that the economy is performing better, people have found that pressure has increased in recent years. One in three are more stressed than they were two years ago.
  • 33 per cent of people surveyed said that the stress in their jobs would cause them to consider moving jobs.
  • One in five has missed work in the past year due to stress, anxiety or depression. Women, employees in the tech sector and those under 34 were most likely to worry about mental health and diet.
  • Despite the fact that mental health is now more openly spoken about in Irish society, people remain slow to seek help from a friend or a colleague. 61 per cent have never sought help, showing that inhibitions about revealing mental health issues in the workplace remain. 50 per cent actually believe that they must hide the stress they feel at work if they are to maintain their career prospects.
  • Corporate employees believe mental health issues are of increasing concern with 78 per cent holding that view, while 67 per cent of those surveyed say they need to take more care of their mental health.

Commenting on the report, Professor Brendan Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin and part of Vhi’s Expert Group said, “There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that workplace stress is increasing. This research is valuable in quantifying how significant this issue is and who is suffering most from stress and anxiety. The level of mental health issues identified is concerning and with many respondents stating they believe it will impact their health in the future, it is clearly a growing problem. While we do acknowledge that the diagnostic thresholds are changing in society it is clear that stress is a serious and growing issue that needs to be urgently addressed.”

Recommendations from Vhi’s Expert Group:

The Vhi Expert Group made a series of recommendations in response to the findings.

  • There should be a focus on resilience training to maintain employees’ mental health;        
  • risk taking and innovation should be encouraged
  • flexible options should be made available for accessing health benefits as this is something employees value

John O’Dwyer, Chief Executive, Vhi Group said: “We have been offering a broad range of solutions for our corporate clients for many years to help support those in the workplace who are suffering from stress and other mental health issues. While these services are in demand this report has identified a growing need for a different kind of support amongst corporate employees in Ireland today. A lack of resilience amongst many people is contributing to the growing levels of stress and anxiety experienced. In response to this need, we have developed a bespoke Resilience Programme(3) which will be rolled out to corporate clients in the coming months”.

To mark the publishing of the report, Vhi today hosted a Vhi Health Insights Business Breakfast focusing on ‘Mind Matters’. During the business breakfast, the panel of speakers which included keynote speaker, Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, Brendan Kelly, explored the challenges facing employers and employees around mental health in the workplace today. RTE broadcaster, Evanne Ni Chuilinn hosted the event with other panellists including Neil Douglas, Qualitative Researcher with B&A and Dublin GAA All Ireland star and tech sector employee, Nicole Owens.


 Notes to Editor

(1) The Vhi Expert Panel are:

Brendan Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin;  Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, Ulster University; Martin Rogan, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Ireland; Steven Dhondt, Senior Researcher on Work and Workplace Quality at TNO, an independentNetherlands organisation for applied scientific research; Richard Frost, Lead, Mindful Employer –Devon Partnership NHS Trust; Maggie Richards, Meditation Teacher and Somatic Experiencing Trauma Therapist; Rebecca Crane, Director, Bangor University Centre for Mindfulness Research; David Kavanagh, Chief Executive Officer, Mindlab (Online Counselling); Josephine Lynch, Director, Mindfulness Centre, Dublin; Cliodhna Foley Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition, safefood Ireland

 (2) Survey

The quantitative survey focused on those up to 45 years working in the corporate sector and included 392 employees from across all sectors who work in businesses of 100+ employees. The survey was conducted online via B&A’s own online consumer panel, Acumen.

The qualitative research focused on: In-depth interviews with 10 experts and two in-depth technology sector staff mini-group interviews

(3) Vhi Resilience programme

Vhi Mind Matters Resilience Workshop is a day long programme designed to boost resilience with a focus on advice for better handling life’s ups and downs. The programme will be delivered by experts in the mental health and nutrition fields.

About Vhi Group

Since 1957, Vhi has been helping people in Ireland to access the best value, quality private healthcare through its extensive range of diverse healthcare products and services.  With one million customers, they continue to be the market leader for health insurance in Ireland.  Their brand promise is 'When you need us, we're there' and this is true for practically every medical eventuality - whether you need cover for hospital treatment, daycare treatment, day-to-day expenses, multi-trip travel insurance, expatriate insurance, dental, walk‑in urgent care, medical screening, occupational health, employee assistance programmes, or hospital in the home services.

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