Workers with mental health issues suffering in silence

Two-thirds of employees have experienced mental ill health caused by work but less than two per cent say they discussed their problems with HR.

Employers have been urged to give line managers mental health training after a poll showed more than four out of five people had suffered symptoms where work was partly to blame.
 
In a poll of more than 20,000 people by charity Business in the Community (BITC), 62 per cent said they had experienced physical, psychological or behavioural symptoms of poor mental health where work was a contributing factor, with nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all employees saying they had experienced symptoms in the last month alone.
 
Just 11 per cent of employees had discussed their problems with their line manager, and only a quarter said they felt able to talk to someone at work, such as a colleague, line manager, or HR practitioner.
 
Despite 76 per cent of line managers accepting that employee wellbeing was their responsibility, fewer than 22 per cent have had any training on mental health at work, according to the report. One third of line managers said they felt that senior managers and HR departments had either been ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ supportive when they managed someone with poor mental health.
 
The majority of workers (86 per cent) said fears around interfering, or not knowing what to do, prevented them from approaching a colleague they were worried about. Two-fifths of line managers said they weren’t confident in responding to symptoms such as panic attacks and depression, although 77 per cent said they were confident in responding to cases of stress.
 
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said: “Millions of employees are suffering in silence and feel unable to share their experiences at work. When they do reach out, many are met with an inadequate response.
 
“Our findings show that we need more openness, more training and information, and more support for employees and managers. This is why we are asking employers to take three steps – talk, train and take action.”
 
People Management recently launched the End the Stigma campaign, which encourages HR and L&D practitioners to open up about their experiences with mental health conditions. Read their stories and contribute your own on our microsite.