Stress related disorders

Stress in the workplace

Stress is an illness that costs UK business dearly. A number of recent surveys indicates that more and more of the workforce are being exposed to undue stress and that the number of working days lost is on the increase.


The 2005/06 survey of Self-reported Work-related Illness (SWI05/06) prevalence estimate indicated that around 420,000 individuals in Britain believed in 2005/06 that they were experiencing work-related stress at a level that was making them ill. The Psychosocial Working Conditions (PWC) surveys indicated that around 1 in 6 of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful.

The annual incidence of work-related mental health problems in Britain in 2005, as estimated from the surveillance schemes OPRA and SOSMI, was approximately 6,400 new cases per year. However, this almost certainly underestimates the true incidence of these conditions in the British workforce. The most recent survey of self-reported work-related illness (SWI05/06) indicates that an estimated 195,000 people first became aware of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the previous 12 months.

Estimates from SWI05/06 indicate that self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety account for an estimated 10.5 million reported lost working days per year in Britain.

Survey data suggest that the incidence Survey data suggest that the incidence of work-related stress and related disorders in the British population was unchanged between 2001/2 and 2004/05 although there is evidence of a rise in incidence from 1995 to 2001/02. SWI05/06 and the latest THOR surveillance data indicate a fall in the number of cases of work-related mental ill-health. This suggests that the incidence of work stress is now falling in Britain. However, interpretation of these data are complex and imprecise, and more years of data are required to properly assess trends.

Occupation and industry groups containing teachers and nurses, along with professional and managerial groups particularly those in the public sector have high prevalence rates of work-related stress in the SWI and SHAW surveys. The THOR datasets SOSMI and OPRA also report high incident rates of work-related mental illness for these occupational groups, along with medical practitioners and those in public sector security based occupations such as police officers, prison officers, and UK armed forces personnel.

As a simple guide to your own stress levels, try filling out our online Stress Evaluation Form.

The complete report, provided by HSE, can be viewed on H.S.E. Stress-related and psychological disorders.