News
Updated Oct 28, 2021

NISRA report on mental health status

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has welcomed new research by the Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency (NISRA) on the mental health status of the Northern Ireland population in employment.

The project, which originated from a discussion with the HSENI to explore statistics that are routinely published for Great Britain by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The aim of the research was to provide some information on the prevalence of depression and/or anxiety within the main occupational and industrial groupings.

Mental health was captured using two measures:

  • self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition; and
  • being prescribed antidepressants, hypnotics or anxiolytics.

Key points of the research included:

  • the proportion of the population in employment in receipt of prescription drugs related to anxiety and depression in each year 2010 to 2012 (8.6%), is nearly three times the proportion self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition according to the 2011 Census (3.1%);
  • the highest proportion self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition (4.3%) were found in elementary, sales and customer services occupations, whereas the lowest proportion (2.0%) in professional occupations;
  • personal service occupations had the highest proportion prescribed antidepressants, hypnotics or anxiolytics in each year 2010-2012 (12.9%), whereas the lowest proportion (5.5%) in skilled trades occupations;
  • significant differences in the prevalence of poor mental health between different occupations and/or industries persist after accounting for socio-economic factors; and
  • sales and customer services occupations had the highest odds ratios for both self-reporting an emotional, psychological or mental health condition (+55%), and being prescribed antidepressants, hypnotics or anxiolytics (+29%), compared to professional occupations.

Despite the study not being able to quantify the prevalence of work-related stress, or establish its relationship with different occupations, industries and socio-economic groupings, it did highlight differences in the prevalence of poor mental health between different occupations and industries in Northern Ireland, beyond the effects of socio-economic and demographic factors.

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