National prevention strategy called for to help workers with mental ill health

Mental health awareness weekNearly half (46%) of workers struggle to switch off from work, a new survey has revealed. The survey by YouGov of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week (11 – 17 May) reports many people always or often feeling stressed (29%), anxious (24%) and depressed (17%). With the survey showing nearly two thirds of people (65%)  likely to take part in activities that reduce stress, the Mental Health Foundation is calling for a national prevention strategy to reduce the risk of problems and for mindfulness to be more widely practised. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and endorsed in the Chief Medical Officer’s Mental Health report, for reducing the risk of depression.

The survey also found that whilst a majority of people (59%) were unaware of mindfulness, a majority of people who ever feel stressed (54%) said they would be very or fairly likely to practice it if they knew that doing it from just 15 minutes a day could reduce stress levels by 30 per cent.

Commenting, on the findings, Mental Health Foundation CEO Jenny Edwards CBE said: “We have just had a General Election where for the first time mental health was a key issue addressed in the manifestos of the major parties. The public are calling for practical action. It’s now time to hold the new Conservative Government to commit to significant steps.

“Of course adequate funding of mental health services is vital, but we also need a national prevention strategy for mental health to help prevent mental health problems from developing wherever possible. We need to tackle the causes that increase the risks of mental ill health and to equip people with practical tools that help prevent stress, anxiety and depression, and build resilience.

“Mindfulness is one of the most encouraging practices to support good mental health. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was originally developed for helping patients attending pain clinics. Now mindfulness based approaches are being successfully used in a wide range of settings and for different conditions. Studies provide good evidence of the impact in many areas. People from all walks of life testify to the transformation in their quality of life as a result of practicing mindfulness regularly. However, the evidence to date is that only a handful of Clinical Commissioning Groups make mindfulness available in their area.”

“We are calling for mindfulness to be available in all areas of the country so that GPs can recommend it and NICE recommendations can be acted upon.  We also encourage people to consider mindfulness as a self-help practice that can build our resilience and capacity to deal with life’s challenges and the stress so many people feel so regularly.”

There are many ways to practice mindfulness through experienced trainers, including online and offline courses, books and apps. The Mental Health Foundation has re-launched its website dedicated to mindfulness: