Stress now main work sickness cause
Research in almost 600 organisations also found a link between job security and mental health issues, with employers planning redundancies "significantly" more likely to report problems among their staff.
Stress-related absence has increased more in the public sector, according to the report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and health firm Simplyhealth.
Restructuring and organisational change were the main causes of stress among public sector workers, highlighting the impact of cuts in jobs, pay and pensions, said the report.
Dr Jill Miller, a CIPD adviser, said: "The survey this year shows that stress is for the first time the number one cause of long-term sickness absence, highlighting the heightened pressure many people feel under in the workplace as a result of the prolonged economic downturn.
"Stress is a particular challenge in the public sector, where the sheer amount of major change and restructuring would appear to be the root cause.
"To a large degree, managing stress is about effective leadership and people management, particularly during periods of major change and uncertainty.
"Line managers need to focus on regaining the trust of their employees and openly communicating throughout the change process to avoid unnecessary stress and potential absences.
"They also need to be able to spot the early signs of people being under excessive pressure or having difficulty coping at work and to provide appropriate support."
© 2011 Press Association