Doctors should get two ‘mental health days’ a year to prevent stress escalating into a long-term issue, the Mental Health Foundation has said.
The recommendation comes as results from the UK’s largest stress survey reveal that 74% of the UK population have felt ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ at some point during the last year.
The survey, commissioned by the charity to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, also found that almost a third of people (32%) had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of stress.
In November 2017 a Pulse survey revealed that almost half of GPs said their ability to care for patients had been affected by stress, with one in nine GPs revealing they had turned to alcohol as a result.
A spokesperson from the Mental Health Foundation said: ‘Governments across the UK should introduce a minimum of two ‘mental health days’ for every public sector worker. Our nurses, doctors, police officers and school staff are under immense pressure due to cuts across the public sector.
‘Introducing and incentivising the use of mental health days could help prevent stress escalating and turning into longer-term sickness absence by encouraging self-care.’
According to the Office for National Statistics, stress and other mental health problems are the fourth most common reason for work sickness absence.
In January last year a dedicated service for GPs experiencing mental health issues was launched following lengthy lobbying for Government funding – including via Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign.
The GP Health Service saw some 50 GPs seek treatment in its first week and as of the end of March 2018 a total of 1,025 GPs were registered with the service.