A HUMAN resources consultancy says the number of clients seeking advice on mental health issues has increased dramatically in recent years.

View HR said its experience bore out an NHS Digital Data Report showing a 14 per cent rise in sick notes relating to anxiety and stress from 2015-16 to 2016-17.

Fitness to Work notes for mental health problems were being issued for longer periods than any other types of illness, the data showed.

Gemma Murphy, managing director of the Ringwood-based agency, said: “Mental health issues are significantly on the rise. They are now more recognised by society whereas in the past a person suffering from problems may have simply signed off work with another ailment such as a bad back.

“The impact of absence on the workplace is still the same. Other team members face more pressure whist the individual is not performing their role. The impact is still costly to an employer and disruptive to the employee’s own career.”

She said the majority of people find it difficult to talk about mental health at home and work, so many keep a problem to themselves until it becomes a wider problem.

“Whilst there is often the old British approach of brush yourself down and get on with it, it’s not that simple for everyone,” she said.

“Mental health conditions can be triggered by work, financial issues, genetic disposition, life events, post-traumatic stress, bereavement, breakdown in relationships, post-natal depression.

“Everyone’s trigger is different. We need to be talking to our staff we suspect have problems far sooner to reduce the impact on the individuals and the business. The repercussions generated if the situation is not handled individually, fairly and with empathy can be very costly. We mediate to provide the best positive solution for both employer and employee.”