New Research: Lockdown causes mental-health related time off work to surge

Analysis of NHS Digital data shows the impact of subsequent lockdowns on workers’ health 

New research from NTT DATA UK, a world leader in consulting and IT services, has found that subsequent COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in an increased number of fit notes issued for mental health reasons.

In England, the first COVID-19 lockdown lasted from 23rd March to 4th July. The second set of restrictions began in October and extended to a second full lockdown from the 5th November to 2nd December. Both lockdowns coincided with an increase in the proportion of fit notes issued for mental health reasons, according to the latest data issued by NHS Digital and analysed by NTT DATA UK.

A fit note is an official document written by doctors to provide a medical opinion on a person’s fitness to work and is usually required when an employee is on sick leave for more than seven days.

Mental health-related illness was already on the rise in the workplace. From 2015 to 2019, it grew as a proportion of workplace illness by one per cent on average year-on-year. However this surged by over four per cent in 2020. 

As many workers start to consider returning to the office, these statistics show that employers must support their staff emotionally.

Vicki Chauhan, Head of Public Sector at NTT DATA UK, commented on the findings: “Employee wellbeing has always been of crucial importance in the workplace. This research shows that it’s now more important than ever to put our mental health first after the effects that subsequent lockdowns have had on our emotional wellbeing.

“At NTT DATA, we provide our staff with support from trained mental health first aiders, share useful content on mental health management, and have mental wellbeing ‘champions’ embedded within our teams. To promote wellbeing and self-care, we encourage regular breaks during the day and also offer free virtual yoga and meditation sessions. Most importantly, we urge our employees to reach out if they are struggling.

“As we start to consider plans for the ‘return to work’, employers must remain conscious of the mental health challenges facing their staff and ensure they are supported during what will undoubtedly be an emotional return to the workplace.”


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