Workplace anxiety and depression and how counselling can help

Workplace anxiety and depression and how counselling can help

Workplace-related mental health problems are on the rise

A recent report by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP, 2017) has highlighted the high rates of anxiety and depression in the UK workforce. Over 400,000 people who worked part-time or full-time were surveyed and around 10 per cent (9 per cent of full-time workers and 12 per cent of part-time workers) reported moderate to extreme levels of anxiety and / or depression. The survey was first completed in 2013 and since then there has been an increase, of almost a third, in the number of people reporting mental health problems. Part-time workers in particular reported a higher level of difficulties. Across the entire sample, which included individuals who did not work, levels of mental health problems also increased but by a lower amount, suggesting that workplace-related anxiety and depression specifically are on the rise.


What does anxiety and depression in the workplace look like?

Mental health problems including depression and anxiety are very common, with one in four people in the UK reporting a mental health problem within the past year. Every person experiencing a workplace-related mental health problem will feel and behave differently, however, common difficulties include:

  • Feeling unable to go to work
  • Being unable to complete work tasks or only being able to complete the minimum
  • Feeling exhausted by work so that your personal or social life is suffering
  • Feeling unsupported by employers or managers
  • Struggling to fall asleep and / or struggling to wake up for work
  • Experiencing more frequent physical health problems
  • Feeling emotional or negative about work tasks or work relationships
  • Turning down a promotion or opportunity due to anxiety regarding a specific task such as public speaking

Most people are likely to experience at least one of these concerns at some point during their career, perhaps relating to an important task or an upcoming deadline, however, if these feelings are overwhelming and continue for a few weeks it may be time to seek help.


How can counselling help with workplace anxiety and depression?

Some feelings of anxiety and depression may reduce over time without support or by speaking to your employer and a friend or family member. If not, counselling may help you to reduce or cope with your feelings of anxiety and / or depression and increase your engagement and productivity at work. Counselling sessions may help you to:

  • Consider the causes of your anxiety or depression such as task-specific difficulties, difficulties with relationships at work, burnout or a reluctance to ask for support
  • Develop practical strategies for managing workplace depression and anxiety
  • Consider practical ways of reducing your workload or stressors
  • Create a plan for the future where self-care is prioritised
  • Consider your career options and support you as you embark on a new, more meaningful career path

For more information please see our webpages on anxiety, depression and burnout.



UK Council for Psychotherapy (2017). Depression and anxiety up by almost a third among workers. Retrieved from: