UK workers put on a brave face, and feel unable to open up about their mental health because of Christmas’s festive mantra. 

Research from LimeGlobal, a medical insurer, found 42 percent of UK workers worry about putting on a brave face and having to act like everything is ‘okay’ when socialising with their colleagues during the festive season.

Using the term ‘pleasanteeism’, LimeGlobal’s study with Censuswide appears to be spreading into worker’s personal lives.


Christmas does not always bring festive feelings

It found 43 percent also worry about putting on a brave face in front of their friends and family during Christmas.

The study suggests a range of factors need to be taken into account for the rise in mental health issues. 

It says over half (55%) of people are worried about NHS waiting times and COVID this winter. While more than a third (34%) are  worried about money and the rising cost of living, and 28 percent are simply feeling stressed at work.

The research warns that many are struggling behind the scenes instead of opening up about how they really feel. 

More than a fifth (22%) say they won’t talk about their problems as it might bring other people down, and 29 percent don’t want to make a fuss about what they are going through.  


Younger generations suffering most

Younger generations are most likely to experience pleasanteeism in both their work and personal lives this Christmas says the study with just under half (48%) of 16-24-year-olds and 25-34-year-old workers worry they need to put on a brave face while socialising with colleagues. This compares to just a third (33%) of those aged 55 and over.

 Likewise, younger workers are more likely to pretend they’re ok to family and friends – with 49% of 16–24-year-old feeling the pressure to put on a brave face during festive celebrations. This compares to 29% of over 55s. 

 Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Medical Director at HealthHero, commented: “We all associate the holiday season with socialising and merriment – in fact, it’s important to remember that even though it is a joyful period, for many it can be a very difficult time – particularly for those who have had an especially challenging time during the pandemic.


Use simple workplace initiatives to support mental health

But findings from the research suggested that workers would welcome simple initiatives from their employers to help their mental health.

These include being allowed to switch off from work properly over the Christmas period (18%) and being more mindful of workload and work / life balance (23%). 

 The company is urging individuals and employers to be more open about mental health challenges to help boost staff resilience.  

Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder, Lime Global Ltd, said: For many a bit of Christmas cheer will be just what the doctor ordered. But the festive season can also bring a sense of obligation and over-commitment. It’s vital that employers keep in mind the mental health and resilience of their entire workforce. Businesses must ensure that staff have time to take the space they need, to recuperate and rebuild their resilience over Christmas.”







Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.