Mental Health Problems Play Role in New Increased Long-term Sickness Figures

19th May 2023

Mental Health Problems Play Role in New Increased Long-term Sickness Figures

The number of economically inactive people because of long-term sickness has reached a record high of more than 2.5 million, official data has revealed.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for January to March 2023 show that, since the Covid pandemic, there are now well over 400,000 more people outside of the labour market as a result of ill health.

The main causes of this were cited as a rise in conditions related to mental health and increased symptoms of long Covid, such as post-viral fatigue. In Mental Health Awareness Week, Janette Smeeton, CEO at DRCS, looks at how long-term health conditions and mental wellbeing are connected and offers some tips on boosting your mood. “Feelings of anxiety or uncertainty can occur if you are suffering from any long-term health condition, and this can impact our mental wellbeing.

“Experiencing health issues can be very worrying or upsetting. It's important to remember that it's OK to feel this way. You are not alone, and there are many different ways to manage these difficult feelings and things you can do to help you feel better, and do not hesitate to seek more support if needed.”

10 simple tips to start supporting your mental wellbeing

1. Explore ways to stay connected
Experiencing a long-term health condition can leave you feeling isolated, angry, guilty or lost but there are many ways to connect to others more in our day-to-day lives. It can be really helpful to talk through the way you feel either with somebody you trust, or by speaking to a trained counsellor.

2. Get practical support
If your physical or mental health symptoms are affecting your daily life, be open about this with friends, family and colleagues. If others understand what you are going through, they will be better placed to help. Do not be afraid to ask for support.

3. Try relaxation or mindfulness
If you are worried about your health, it can feel hard to distract yourself from feelings of anxiety, worry or low mood. It's easy to get caught in a spiral of "what ifs", but mindfulness activities can help you to relax, shift your focus from negative thoughts and encourage your mind to be in the present. Take time to repeat these activities if you feel improved.

4. Distract yourself
It's common to feel worried or overwhelmed with health issues, but there are ways to overcome this. Simple distraction techniques or engaging in something you enjoy, can help in the short-term. Visualisation is useful by thinking about calm and peaceful places. Here at DRCS we offer a range of talking therapies where you can discuss issues face to face or online.

5. Plan your time – do things you enjoy
Feeling low or unwell can lead to a lack of motivation, but sticking to a routine that works for you can really help. Simple things such as going to bed and waking up at the same time and making time each day to do something you enjoy, like reading or doing a puzzle, can make a big difference. If your symptoms prevent you from doing as much as you would like, planning can help you feel less pressured and more in control of your time. Focus on the present and what might be best for your recovery right now as much as possible – and be sure to recognise and celebrate all of your achievements, no matter how big or small.

6. Pace yourself
Spreading out activities in manageable chunks, and resting in between, means you may be able to get things done without feeling like your health or wellbeing has to suffer. This can help avoid pushing yourself too far and burning out. Discuss this with your GP to make sure that the medical advice you follow is right for your individual needs.

7. Get information from trusted sources
It's tempting to spend a lot of time reading about our condition if you are worried about your health. Make sure to use reliable sources as social media and other people, can be wrong, and if researching information about your condition makes you feel anxious, set yourself limits.

8. Get better sleep
Good sleep is important for physical and mental health. There are plenty of ways to help you sleep better through wellness podcasts, apps, books and other techniques.

9. Look after your lifestyle
Taking care of your general health can help both your physical and mental wellbeing. Eating a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol intake, and getting support to quit smoking can all help you to feel better. If appropriate, you can also think about introducing exercise into your daily routine. Getting active releases endorphins, a natural chemical that makes us feel happier. Speak about this with a medical professional to make sure you are doing something that suits your individual needs.

10. Seek medical advice and/or counselling if you need it
Do not hesitate to reach out – it's important to get more support if you need it. Keep track of your symptoms in a diary so that it's easier to tell if things change. Speak to your health professional about any problems you are experiencing. They can make sure you get the right help and assistance. You can refer yourself for free, non-urgent NHS talking therapies at DRCS via our online web referral form or calling us on 0800 047 6861. Click here for further information.

What services does DRCS offer?

  • DRCS offers a wide range of talking therapies to support and enable those to improve their wellness and well-being - via confidential face to face and online services
  • DRCS works with Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust to deliver 'NHS Talking Therapies' to anyone who either self refers or who is referred by their GP to the service

For further information contact DRCS on 0800 047 6861 or email

#DRCS #CounsellingServices #Derbyshire