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Recession blamed for 100pc rise in distress at workplace

THE recession has taken a heavy toll on mental health in the workplace with over a 100pc increase in cases involving emotional distress, according to health insurer VHI.

There are also indications of workers suffering burnout because of increased workload and stress, with key signs including irritability, an inability to leave work, fatigue and absenteeism.

An employee-support service run by VHI recorded a massive increase in workers experiencing emotional distress and bullying in the workplace.

The VHI's Employee Assistance Programme has reported a number of worrying trends regarding the queries it received from employees over the last 12 months, which it is directly attributing to the negative effects of recession.


The VHI programme -- which is in place in 450 companies across the country -- is run by a specialist team offering services on a range of employee health and well-being issues to corporate clients.

In the first three months of this year, 269 of the almost 2,100 cases handled by the employee assistance programmes related to emotional health issues in the workplace.

That is a 110pc increase compared with last year. Figures for 2010 show 68 of almost 1,700 cases related to emotional distress in the same period.

The team also received more than 50 queries regarding bullying and harassment in the first three months of the year-- up from just 15 queries in the same period last year.

The figures emerged at the VHI's Corporate Solutions Employee Assistance Programme conference held in Dublin yesterday.

The conference, which was attended by more than 120 representatives from Ireland's top employers, focussed on the need to promote positive relationships as well as introducing proactive measures to prevent burnout in the workplace.

Irish Independent