Workers facing negative attitudes to mental health

Men having discussion
A third of UK workers say their organisation has a negative approach to mental health problems, with a similar proportion saying no support is offered.

Over half of UK employees – 57 per cent – have suffered from mental health problems while in employment, and 33 per cent say their employer approaches mental health issues in a negative way, with 13 per cent saying their organisation is dismissive and doesn’t take mental health problems seriously.
A further 12 per cent say their organisation is uncomfortable and awkward when dealing with the subject and a further 8 per cent say their employer is secretive about mental health, with no-one ever talking about it, which they say adds to the stigma that already exists around the subject.

Just 5 per cent say their organisation is helpful when dealing with mental health and 12 per cent have received a negative response after speaking to their employer about mental health issues, according to the findings, from research carried out by Canada Life Group Insurance. Just 47 per cent of employees suffering from mental health have opened up to their employer.

Just 32 per cent of employees believe their organisation provides no support for those experiencing a mental health problem and 25 per cent are unaware of the type of support their organisation offers.

Occupational health service and counselling services are the most common forms of support to be offered, both offered by 23 per cent of employers but fewer than one in five employees – 18 per cent know they have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP). The research found 22 per cent employees would like a trained, designated member of staff to discuss problems with and 19 per cent would like counselling services, but only 16 per cent want an EAP to be offered. This could suggest that employees themselves are unaware of the breadth of support available from EAPs.

Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis says: “A worrying lack of understanding around mental health is emerging in the working world. It is crucial for employers to communicate with employees so they understand they won’t be penalised or treated differently if suffering from mental health problems. The sheer lack of awareness of mental ill health in the workplace is a very worrying trend when you consider over 50 per cent of people experience these types of problems.

“Employees must feel able to confide in their employers when struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental health conditions so they can receive whatever support they need. Failing to promote the importance of wellbeing or enhancing the stigma of mental ill health among employees will have a negative impact on collective morale and individual recovery in the long term.

“Far too few organisations have a clear programme to support those suffering from mental ill health and even fewer have communicated this effectively to their staff. The prevalence of mental ill health in the workplace shows how important it is that this changes. An Employee Assistance Programme, for example, is a great way of providing support at all stages of working life. Such benefits ensure workers feel valued and provide the necessary support should any problems occur, boosting morale and productivity.”