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UK Business Leaders Health and Wellbeing Study 2023

Female-specific Statistics

commissioned by The Dawn Rehab Thailand

As a quarter of our clients come from the UK, of whom 35% are C-suite executives, professionals or business owners – we decided to conduct a United Kingdom nationwide study of 1,000 individuals working in senior level roles earning annual salaries of £75k and over.

The study was undertaken by Pollfish and surveyed

  • Gender-wise: 46% men, 54% women.
  • Age brackets: 18-24 (4%), 25-34 (11%), 35-44 (58%), 45-54 (23%), 55 and over (4%)
  • Salary breakdowns: £75,000-£124,999 (54%), £125,000-£199,999 (14%), over £200,000 (32%).

Here are the findings on the high-income earning women we polled  

  • 78% of women in high-earning C-suite roles regularly experience stress, compared to 58% of male execs
  • 69% of female ‘high-fliers’ suffer from depression and 51% experience panic attacks and anxiety
  • 40% admit to weekly use of recreational drugs, and a third (32%) say they’ve experienced alcohol misuse or problems with alcohol consumption
  • Female execs more likely than males to use sex to cope with stress (54% vs. 32%)
  • 60% of women in high-earning roles fear work stress has caused lasting damage to their relationships 

The study found that female execs are much more likely than their male colleagues to suffer with work-related stress (78% vs. 58%) – and almost half of women in high-powered jobs (49%) have experienced burnout or exhaustion, with one in six (16%) taking up to three months off work as a result.

The majority of female respondents (69%) reported suffering from depression, with 32% experiencing severe depression. More than half of the women polled (51%) cited regular anxiety and panic attacks and 38% reported physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and headaches brought on by work stress. Furthermore, 30% said they’d had suicidal thoughts.

Read below for more female-specific data insights
Alcohol and drug use, and other ‘coping’ behaviours​
  • 32% of high-earning females in C-suite roles aid they’d experienced alcohol misuse or problems with alcohol consumption. A similar number (31%) admitted to drinking during the working day and drinking alone.

  • 40% of female execs said they take drugs such as cannabis and cocaine more than once a week, with 30% taking them when stressed, and the same number (30%) admitting to taking drugs during the working day.

  • Reliance on other known ‘coping’ behaviours was also found to be prevalent, with 50% of female respondents using gambling, shopping and food – either overeating or bingeing – to cope with work stress; additionally, female execs were found to be more likely than their male counterparts to use sex to cope with stress (54% vs. 32%).
Impact on relationships and life outside work
  • A huge 89% of female execs said work-related issues had a negative impact on their personal life, with 49% recognising they’re not always ‘present’ when with family.

  • For a third of women in high-earning C-suite roles (34%), work-related issues have led to the breakdown of their relationship with their spouse or partner. And a similar number (32%) said relationships with friends and family had been damaged by work stress.

  • 60% are worried about further, lasting damage to their relationships with partners, children and wider family. 
Seeking help
  • Reassuringly, 85% of female executives have sought help for the effects of work-related stress, consulting their GP or a healthcare professional for medical support – with over half being prescribed medication (53%) and counselling (56%).

  • However, almost one in six (16%) said they haven’t shared their problems with anyone else, with 55% of those worried about damaging relationships with family and friends and a third (33%) concerned they may lose their job if they admit to mental health issues.
Mental health issues are ‘common in high-earners’ – but still no regrets?
  • The vast majority (87%) of top-paid female execs believe that issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, burnout, drug and alcohol misuse are ‘common’ within their industry and among high-earners.
  • Despite the heavy impact of their jobs on health and relationships, only 35% say they regret the career path they’ve chosen. More than half (58%) say they dream of ‘giving it all up’ and living a simpler life with less money and less stress.


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