Why wellbeing matters

Prioritising workplace wellbeing helps every aspect of an organisation. These studies, briefings and reports evidence why organisations need to invest in workplace wellbeing. 

The World Health Organisation defines healthy, safe and resilient workplaces as those in which people can perform their roles

  • without getting sick or injured
  • with opportunities to enhance their physical and mental health and social wellbeing
  • while preserving harmony with nature and being protected in case of disaster in the community


 …For all workers, safe and healthy working environments are not only a fundamental right but are also more likely to improve work performance and productivity, improve staff retention and minimize tension and conflict.

World Health Organisation

Global and European research, evidence and statistics

Guidelines on mental health at work, World Health Organisation, 2022

Depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy US $1 trillion each year driven predominantly by lost productivity, amounting to an estimated 12 billion working days. The WHO guidelines on mental health at work provide evidence-based recommendations to promote mental health, prevent mental health conditions, and enable people living with mental health conditions to participate and thrive in work.  The guidelines on mental health at work aim to improve the implementation of evidence-based interventions for mental health at work.

Recommendations include

  • universal interventions that address psychosocial risk factors to reduce emotional distress and improve work-related outcomes
  • reasonable work accommodations for team members with mental health conditions
  • training workers in mental health literacy and awareness to improve mental health-related knowledge and attitude at work and reduce stigma
  • training managers to support workers’ mental health and improve knowledge, attitudes and behaviours for mental health
  • providing directed clinical care to people returning to work after absences associated with mental health conditions

Read the full guidelines mental health at work


Mental health at work policy brief, World Health Organisation & International Labour Organisation, 2022

A companion piece to the mental health guidelines, this policy brief provides context for the link between mental health and work.

Key statistics include

  • 60% of the world’s population is in work
  • 301 million people lived with anxiety in 2019
  • 280 million people lived with depression in 2019
  • 15% of working-age adults had a mental disorder in 2019
  • 50% of the total societal cost of mental health conditions is driven by indirect costs such as reduced productivity
  • 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety
  • Depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$1 trillion a year mostly due to lost productivity

Read the full mental health at work policy briefing

Occupational safety and health in post-pandemic workplaces, EU-OSHA, 2022

This report presents the results of a ‘Flash Eurobarometer – OSH Pulse’ survey commissioned by EU-OSHA with the aim of gaining insights into the state of occupational safety and health (OSH) in post-pandemic workplaces. The agency interviewed a representative sample of more than 27,000 employed workers in April and May 2022 in all EU countries, plus Iceland and Norway. It asked about the mental and physical health stresses workers face and the importance of occupational safety and health measures in their workplace.

Key findings include

  • 4 in 10 respondents across the EU agree that their work stress has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 46% of respondents said that they are exposed to severe time pressure or overload of work
  • 38% of respondents had access to counselling or psychological support in their workplace

Read the full OSHA occupational safety and health in post pandemic workplaces report


The Return On Investment in workplace mental health programs, Deloitte, 2020

Deloitte’s return on investment (ROI) study is based on analysis of historical investment and savings data from seven Canadian companies at various stages of their mental health investment journey, and complemented by interviews with subject-matter experts and leaders from 10 companies. It examines the typical annual return on investment of workplace mental health programs and identifies leading practices for employers to consider.

Key findings include

  • Canadian organisations see positive return on investment. It can take 3 or more years to achieve positive ROI and ROI typically increases as programs mature
  • Companies that have mental health programs in place but have not yet achieved a positive ROI may be realizing greater savings than the national average, reducing the cost of doing nothing
  • Mental health programs are more likely to achieve positive ROI when they support employees along the entire spectrum of mental health, from promotion of wellbeing to intervention and care, as well as the elimination or reduction of workplace hazards that could psychologically harm an employee

Read the full Return on Investment in workplace mental health programs report

Republic of Ireland research, evidence and statistics

Occupational safety and health in post-pandemic workplaces (Ireland), EU-OSHA, 2022

This survey of 1,008 Irish workers asked about the mental and physical health stresses workers face and the importance of occupational safety and health measures in their workplace.

Key findings include

  • 52% of respondents had access to counselling or psychological support through their workplace
  • 77% of respondents had access to awareness raising or other activities to provide information on safety and health through their workplace
  • 69% of respondents had access to information and training on well-being and coping with stress
  • 46% of respondents felt their work stress had increased since the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 43% of respondents felt that disclosing a mental health condition would have a negative impact on their career

Read the full occupational safety and health in post pandemic workplace in Ireland report


Healthy Ireland at Work: A National framework for health workplaces in ireland 2021-2025

The Healthy Workplaces Framework is a government strategy to enhance the health and wellbeingof Ireland’s workers. It sets the strategic direction for workplace policies and programmes to enhance the health of workers.

The framework includes some context for health and absenteeism in Ireland’s workplaces citing

  • 300,000 days lost in 2016 due to alcohol related absenteeism
  • €195 million lost output each year due to alcohol related absenteeism
  • €136 million lost output each year due to smoking breaks

The framework’s objectives are to

  • build structures and symptoms that support health and wellbeing at government and workplace levels
  • raise awareness of the framework through communication and regular reporting on the health of the national workforce
  • transform workplace culture and develop guidelines on assessing and transforming organisational cultures to promote health and wellbeing
  • support workplaces to enhance workers’ health and wellbeing

Read the full Healthy Workplaces Framework


HR Practices in Ireland, CIPD, 2022

CIPD Ireland provides annual insights into the experiences and concerns of people professionals in Ireland. Respondents identified talent management, people retention and employee engagement as key priorities for the next two years. Respondents identified employee turnover rates as an area of concern with 56% expecting employee turnover to increase. The main reason for turnover was re-evaluation of working life, cited by 69% of respondents.

Key wellbeing trends include

  • supporting wellbeing being cited as a challenge of remote or hybrid working by 62% of respondents
  • the second most common reason for work absence, after self-isolation and COVID-19 related absences, was work related stress and mental health
  • 60% of respondents had counselling and EAP services in place for team members
  • wellbeing is on senior leaders’ agenda in 67% of respondents’ organisations

Read the full HR Practices in Ireland report


Ending mental health stigma in the workplace, See Change, 2021

See Change carried out an online omnibus study of 650+ participants to understand the working population’s view towards mental health stigma and gauge the incidence of, and perceptions towards, mental health issues in the workplace

Key messages include

  • 1 in 5 workers believe that mental health stigma is prevalent in their workplace
  • more than 70% of workers worry that disclosing a mental health issues could impact their job – which can influence low takeup of employee assistance programmes
  • 2 in 5 workers have witnessed some form of stigmatising behaviour in the workplace
  • 70% of workers believe that a mental health difficulty will make a person behave more negatively
  • just over half of workers feel their workplace is eqipped to support employees with mental health issues
  • 85% of workers feel it is appropriate to have open conversations about mental health in the workplace

Read the full Ending mental health stigma in the workplace report

Northern Ireland research, evidence and statistics

Mental wellbeing guide for employers , HSENI, 2021

Over 16,000 people in Northern Ireland were reported as suffering from work-related stress in 2018/19. This booklet from the HSE provides a pathway to help employers effectively meet their duty to assess the risks from work to mental health and put in place measures to mitigate this risk.

It recommends that

  • Organisations adopt and adhere to formal policies on stress and mental health
  • Workplaces offer resources and interventions including time, support systems and skilled assistance including psychological therapies
  • Organisations assess the risk and potential causes of stress within workplaces
  • Workplaces foster a culture of openness in relation to mental health issues
  • Organisations draw up action plans to promote mental wellbeing

 Read the full HSE mental wellbeing guide for employers


Working lives northern ireland, CIPD, 2021

CIPD acknowledges that health and wellbeing has shot to the top of policy makers’ and practitioners’ agendas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings of the report include

  • 55% of employees reported a non-physical health condition
  • Almost a third of employees felt their work impacts negatively on their mental health
  • 45% of employees said they went to work despite not being well enough to do so
  • Almost a third of employees always or often felt exhausted at work
  • A need for organisations to support line managers to enable them to identify signs of poor wellbeing, poarticularly in hybrid work environments

Read the full Working Lives Northern Ireland report


Mental health status of the NI population in employment: occupations and industries, NISRA, 2021

This study measures the extent of work-related stress, anxiety and depression in Northern Ireland using prescriptions data linked to census data via the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study.

Key points of the study

  • The proportion of the population in employment in receipt of prescription drugs related to anxiety and depression in each year 2010 to 2012 is nearly three times the proportion self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition according to the 2011 census
  • The highest proportion self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition were found in elementary, sales and customer services occupations
  • Personal service occupations had the highest proportion prescribed antidepressants, hypnotics or anxiolytics in each year 2010-2012

Read full study



Inspire's research, evidence and statistics

Attitudes towards mental health in Northern Ireland, Time to Talk, 2023

People in Northern Ireland believe talking about mental health is important, polling conducted as part of Time to Talk day shows.
  • 41% of respondents said they’d find it easier to talk about mental health issues if they had more knowledge and understanding of mental health problems
  • 19% of respondents said they’d find it easier to talk about mental health issues if they had better support at work
  • 27% of respondents worried they’d be judged or stigmatised if they brought up mental health issues
  • Almost 70% of respondents said the cost of living crisis has impacted their mental health
Learn more about Time to Talk Day polling


Impact of cost of living increases on mental health, 2022

Inspire asked YouGov to carry out research in September 2022 to understand how the rising cost of living was impacting people’s mental health and their ability to protect their wellbeing.

  • 79% of people said the cost-of-living crisis was having a negative impact on their mental health – 29% said the negative impact was significant
  • 46% of people had looked for mental health support as a result of worries over the cost of living
  • 66% were anxious about their when thinking about their finances over the next 12 months
  • 52% said they would find it hard to afford essential items like food, fuel and clothing
  • 36% of people said they would find it hard to attend health appointments like dentists or opticians
  • 46% of respondents said they would find it hard to meet up with friends and family
  • 66% of people said they would find it hard to afford holidays or days out – rising to 74% in households with children


Latest News and Features

Inspire was established in 1959 and is one of the largest providers of mental health, autism, intellectual disability and addiction services in Ireland.

With that comes years of knowledge, experience and expertise which we share in our blog, providing updates on the latest developments in mental health and wellbeing and on our innovative services and approaches.