Workers in Belfast are among the most stressed in the UK, new research has found.
Research from Aviva found that 36% of people locally have taken time off work with stress but blamed it on a physical illness.
Across the UK, 25 per cent of those surveyed have taken a day off because of stress at some stage of their career. Based on the number of people working in the UK, it suggests that nearly eight million people are suffering in silence.
Released to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day, the study found that money is the most common cause of stress, followed by relationships.
Aviva’s research also found that 25-34 year olds were the most likely to have taken time off (46 per cent). The over-55s were least likely to need time off work (25 per cent).
More than half of men (53 per cent) who had taken a day off work with stress at some stage in their career said they had done so in the last year, compared to just a third of women (34 per cent).
Those who took time off work with stress in the last year took an average of six days off - the most common response was 1-2 days (31 per cent), but 6 per cent of people said they had taken 11 days or more.
More than a quarter of people cited money as their main cause of stress (27%), followed by relationships (15 per cent), health (13 per cent) and work (13 per cent).
However, one in five people (20 per cent) said that they have no causes of stress in their life at all.
However, one in five people (20 per cent) said that they have no causes of stress in their life at all, and there is some evidence that stigma around stress and mental health problems is being reduced - a third of people (33 per cent) said they would now feel more comfortable talking about it than they would have done five years ago, compared to just 1 in 8 (12 per cent) who said they would feel less comfortable.
Steve Bridger, Managing Director of Group Protection at Aviva, said: “In 2016 people should not feel that they have to hide their stress away and suffer in silence.
“Feeling that you can’t be open about a problem is likely to make it worse, not better. People don’t raise an eyebrow if a colleague is off work with flu, but anything to do with mental health still appears to be taboo.
“The most recent government figures say that 15 million working days a year are being lost because of stress and mental illness so this is clearly something employers need to focus on.”