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Let people switch off during holiday season, says mental health group

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Young professionals feel under pressure to work during their holidays, putting their mental health at risk, says not-for-profit organisation the City Mental Health Alliance.

Up to a third of young professionals expect to be working while they are on holiday this Christmas season, according to new research from the City Mental Health Alliance.

The not-for-pofit organisation is urged City businesses to allow employees time to switch off over the Christmas period. The research showed that around three-quarters of those planning to work over the holidays were doing so because they were concerned about meeting their new employer’s expectations. Around half felt obliged to work beyond time-tabled office hours.

The survey revealed this was highest amongst those looking to work in the legal profession, where 35% thought they would need to be available on email over the holidays.

Workers in the City experience higher than normal mental health problems. Among the working population at large, one in four people experience mental health problems. Among City workers, that figure rises to nearly half. The CMHA survey found that half (50%) of professionals in the financial,  legal and professional services industry are routinely expected to check their emails outside of working hours, while a further 44% expect they will be required to respond to emails on the weekend.

The mental health charity Mind says it is important to create clear boundaries between work and home, saying workers should try not to let work spill over into personal life. It says that if people need to bring work home, they should designate a separate area for work and stick to it. In this way it is much easier to close the door on work.

Poppy Jaman, chief executive at CMHA, said: “Employers have an important role in supporting and promoting the mental health of their employees. It is vital that employers set appropriate expectations for new employees and recognise the need for uninterrupted annual leave and free time. Senior leaders and managers can help to promote mentally healthy workplaces by demonstrating healthy behaviours such as using their own annual leave and actively encouraging others to do the same. Annual leave or free time at the weekend should not be viewed as a dispensable luxury.”


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