UK Employees Nervous to Discuss Mental Health at Work
Employees are becoming increasingly fearful of discussing mental health in the workplace. This is despite investment into mental health first aid within organisations.
What are the mental health statistics?
Nearly half of all UK employees fear being honest in the workplace about any mental health issues they may have. A recent poll by MHR of 6,386 participants found that 47% of employees would feel uncomfortable discussing the issue with their employer due to concerns of their career progression being impacted.
Furthermore, employees are not only fearful of discussing mental health with employers, but it has a huge impact on staff absence. The research found that there has been a 16% increase in employee absence due to mental health. The poll also found that 35% of employees said they have taken time off due to mental health. This statistic shows an increase from 31% found in 2020.
The figures are shocking. These statistics have occurred despite the 26% increase in the number of organisations that have introduced mental health first aid in the last year. MHR has suggested that these investments and training may not be having the desired impact on support in the workplace.
Why are the statistics increasing?
Jeanette Wheeler, HR director at MHR, has discussed the findings. Wheeler has pointed out that while it is positive to see employers moving in a direction to create a workplace more comfortable with discussion related to the issue, the stigma around it was still “very much present”
Wheeler continued, “Individuals that recognise they need time off to look after their wellbeing, should not feel threatened to admit the truth to their employer. These findings should urge business leaders to re-evaluate their approach to mental health”
Wheeler added that creating safe spaces within the workplace for conversations around the issue was “more than just company-wide training. Jeanette Wheller continued, “it comes down to the culture of the organisation.”
What can employers do?
Commenting on world mental health day, Jamie McKenzie, director at Sodexo Engage, said that the pandemic has increased people’s stress and anxiety and employers would benefit from being mindful that different employees will need more time to adjust than others.
McKenzie said, “Leaders and managers need to be compassionate, lead with empathy, and understand people’s challenges and work to help them through tough times” Jamie Mckenzie suggested to employers that they could help staff by providing access to health professionals through employee assistance programmers and offering paid days off for mental health.
McKenzie said, “It is important for employers to treat this as a time of transition and give employees the time and space needed to adjust to this new world. Most of all, it is vital that business leaders do all they can to reassure their people that they are supported, cared about and that they don’t feel pressure to please.”
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the topics within this article further, please get in contact with the HPC team today.
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