Photo: Weinbeer via

Women More Likely To Suffer Poor Mental Health Due To Low Pay

Women’s mental health is significantly more affected by burnout and stress caused by the current state of the world than men, according to new research.


Women’s mental health is significantly more affected by burnout and stress caused by the current state of the world than men, according to new research.

Over 10,000 people in 12 countries, including more than 1,200 in the UK, were asked about their health, emotional well-being, physical security, and other key factors, by health services giant Cigna Healthcare, as part of its 2023 Vitality Study.

Details of the research

The study was developed with clinical psychologist Dr. Richard Ryan, a leading expert on the science of human motivation and vitality. It highlights the eight pillars that contribute to people’s overall well-being, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, financial, environmental, spiritual and occupational health, which is used as a measure of psychological well-being and scientifically validated whole person health.

Taking into account relevant current issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, financial stability and future uncertainty, the study reveals:

  • Women have significantly lower vitality levels than men, driven by a combination of factors, including an overall ‘perception of a lack of energy and positive spirit’
  • Women score lower than men for both emotional and financial vitality
  • By contrast, vitality in men is driven by greater financial security and emotional well-being, plus a general ‘positive spirit and energy’
  • Over half (53%) of stressed women reported that the greatest impact of stress is disrupted sleep patterns and tiredness.


The study also reveals the impact financial pressures have on women’s well-being and low vitality levels. Cigna Healthcare’s study highlights the gender pay gap is a significant issue for women, who are twice as likely as men to earn under £1,500 per month, with a staggering 52% of women in this pay bracket compared to just 26% of men.

Dr Stella George, Chief Medical Officer, Cigna Healthcare, said,

“Our latest research reveals some alarming statistics when it comes to the well-being of women. Increased levels of stress and burnout will only have long term effects – a fifth of those in the UK reported feeling more helpless, trapped, and defeated than normal. Steps must be taken to improve the mental well-being of women and the nation as a whole.”

The Cigna Healthcare survey also revealed high levels of stress across the whole population, with lower vitality levels for younger and single people:

  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) Brits are experiencing more burnout symptoms than usual
  • Married couples, Baby Boomers (age 60+) and males display higher levels of vitality than singles and females
  • Half of those surveyed (49%) cited the ongoing cost of living crisis as the largest cause of stress, followed by personal finance (38%)

Dr Stella George added,

“These are dangerous levels of stress and burnout – people need to understand that help is out there. Importantly, employers can offer those suffering from burnout much-needed support, from recognising the warning signs, understanding the effects, and helping to manage and reduce burnout within teams.”

Arjan Toor, CEO, Cigna Healthcare added,

“Cigna’s Vitality Study demonstrates that there is a well-being crisis in the UK; the rate of burnout and stress, particularly women, are extremely concerning. With significant global challenges such as conflict, illness, and the cost-of-living crisis, we’re constantly consuming terrible news with little relief, all of which are affecting our day-to-day lives.

Toor continued,

We can no longer measure well-being using narrow health metrics such as diet, exercise, and disease alone. We must consider the bigger picture: intellectual and emotional stimulation, cultural and social connections, financial and physical security, and of course, health. Work is a central part of people’s vitality and well-being, and it is therefore essential that every employer considers this as part of their workplace health plan.”


The study was based on the Evernorth Vitality Index, developed in partnership with leading clinical psychologist and author Dr. Richard Ryan using his Self-Determination Theory and Subjective Vitality Scales (SVS). The index measures eight dimensions of well-being as well as three components of the SVS.

From the findings of the research, it is quite clear that the sooner disparities in the pay between the sexes is addressed on a wholesale level, then women, whatever stage they might be in their careers, will be prone to mental health issues as a direct result.

Is your mental health affected by either low pay or other factors in the workplace? Tell us more in the comments. 

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get our latest news in your inbox