Belfast as bad as London for work stress absence

The Government estimates 15 million working days a year are lost to stress
The Government estimates 15 million working days a year are lost to stress

Belfast ranks alongside London as having one of the UK’s most stressed workforces, a new study has found.

More than one-third of employees living in the Belfast area have taken time off work due to stress, although many declare a physical ailment as the cause of the absence.

Almost eight million workers across the UK have taken sick days over a range of stressful episodes in their lives – including money and relationship worries, the survey by Aviva insurance reveals. The most recent Government figures estimate that 15 million working days a year are being lost because of stress and mental illness.

Steve Bridger, managing director of group protection at Aviva, said: “In 2016 people should not feel that they have to hide their stress away and suffer in silence.

“Feeling that you can’t be open about a problem is likely to make it worse, not better. People don’t raise an eyebrow if a colleague is off work with flu, but anything to do with mental health still appears to be taboo.”

Plymouth topped the chart of stressed workforces with 39% reporting a stress-related absence ahead of Brighton (37%), with Belfast, London and Birmingham all on 36%.

The study also found that 53% of men had missed work due to stress compared to 34% of women.