Stigmas drive UK leaders to 'self-medicate' poor mental health with alcohol and substances
LONDON, Nov. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -Two in five high-flying UK business leaders have 'self-medicated' their mental health issues with alcohol or drugs during Covid.
Research by premium health insurer Bupa Global as part of its Executive Wellbeing Index reveals six in 10 board level executives with symptoms of mental ill-health have turned to potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms.
38 per cent have used alcohol or recreational or over-the-counter drugs, with others smoking, exercising excessively, over or under eating, or gambling.
During the pandemic eight in 10 UK business leaders have experienced symptoms of mental ill-health such as fatigue, mood swings and disturbed sleep, due to financial pressures and personal concerns.
Worryingly, stigmas are preventing many from seeking help. Two in five mention potential damage to their reputation while others fear the impact on their professional or social standing.
Only one in four of those affected have spoken to a medical professional, while one in three self-medicate as they can't talk to anyone.
But with early diagnosis crucial to improving outcomes, Bupa Global experts are urging those affected to take positive steps and seek help.
Dr Luke James, Bupa Global's Medical Director said: "The pandemic is taking its toll on business leaders. With complex networks of colleagues, investors, affiliates as well as their own families to consider, it's no surprise that many have felt that they must 'keep calm and carry on', rather than facing up to mental health issues head on.
"At the same time, many of the mechanisms people typically use to cope with such stress and anxieties have been diminished and replaced with other, more addictive substitutes such as increased alcohol consumption, substance abuse, and gambling.
"But while self-medication can seem like a quick-fix solution, it won't solve the underlying mental health issues and could ultimately make things worse. Early diagnosis and treatment improves outcomes so I'd urge anyone who might be struggling to seek help."
Poppy Jaman, CEO of the City Mental Health Alliance said: "Leading by example is crucial to breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness. Encouraging compassionate dialogue to encourage positive action is crucial to creating safe workplace cultures where everyone can flourish. Workplaces that nurture talent, train line managers, put mental health and wellbeing on the Board agenda are building resilient businesses which will be able to face these challenging times."
Spotting the signs of self-medication:
Dr Luke James says: "I'd recommend seeking medical help either through your GP or health insurer if you notice signs of self-medication."
Signs to watch out for:
- Increased reliance on drugs or alcohol to help deal with stressful situations
- A heightened sense of anticipation about drinking or taking something, or being unable go a day without it
- In the case of alcohol, you might notice a restricting pattern – for example sticking to certain drinks
- Increased tolerance – where it takes a higher dose or more drinks to reach the desired effect
- Worsening mental health symptoms - alcohol is a depressant which means it can make anxiety or depression worse. Some drugs can also cause mood disturbances or even psychosis
- An impact on appearance or personal habits - for example losing or gaining a lot of weight, losing interest in appearance or personal hygiene, or withdrawing from friends and family.
To support UK business leaders with their mental health and help prevent issues in the future, Bupa Global is now providing greater coverage for mental health conditions including addiction and self-inflicted injuries.
For more information on Bupa Global's world leading services visit www.bupaglobal.com
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