Mental health issues are now the number one workplace illness, according to a new study, with 2 in 5 workers admitting to suffering from stress and anxiety during their career.
The study by B&A and released by Friends First, found that mental health issues emerged as most prevalent amongst younger workers, with almost half of under 35s having taken extended sick leave (more than one week) due to stress or anxiety.
More generally, 4 in 10 workers reported having taken extended sick leave due to an accident or illness with the resulting sick leave period being on average 14 weeks – with many workers finding themselves without income when on sick leave.
Despite being aware of the prospect of their income being interrupted due to unexpected sick leave, 2 in 5 of those surveyed admitted to having no plan and no idea what they would do if they found themselves on sick leave with no income.
One in two said they would dip into their 'rainy day' fund, while 2 in 5 said they would turn to family and friends for financial support
"The research shows that mental health has the potential to impact on us all and the effects of stress and anxiety know no boundaries when it comes to age, gender or profession," Karen Gallagher, Protection Director with Friends First, said.
"It is also concerning to see that despite a strong level of awareness around the potential to be without an income in the event of extended sick leave of over one week, a large cohort of workers remain financially unprepared.
"Income protection as a form of cover is often overlooked in the false optimism of our ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude.
"I would really implore income earners to think about taking steps to safeguard one of their most valuable assets, their ability to sustainably earn a living."