New Research On Mental Health in the UK Workplace Sheds Light On Stigma

New Research On Mental Health in the UK Workplace Sheds Light On Stigma

68% Of Brits Are Worried That Sharing Concerns About Their Mental Health At Work Would Have A Negative Impact On Their Job According To New Research. Talk Out, a new UK mental health charity have surveyed British workers to discover how they think others would perceive mental health at work. A nationwide study found that 68 percent of UK workers believe that, if they told their boss they were struggling from some kind of mental health issue, it would have a negative impact on their job. And as many as six percent of British workers who opened up about mental health issues to their boss, believe they lost their job over it. Overall, a staggering 67 percent of Brits say they have suffered mental health issues that affected them at work – but only 34 percent of those felt supported by their employers.

Shockingly, the research also found that more than half (51 percent) of senior managers in the UK admit that they consider a worker who is mentally unwell a liability, with 65 percent saying they thought talking about mental health at work was a sign of weakness. Little wonder then, perhaps, more than half (52 percent) of Brits believe that managers and bosses are not sympathetic to people who struggle with mental health issues. In fact, 64 percent of Brits have pretended to have had a physical ailment to take sick leave, when in reality they were struggling, mentally.

Nearly four in ten who did this, did it to hide their symptoms, while over a third worried that it might reflect badly on them if they were honest about the situation. And 63 percent of those who suffer, have not told anyone at work about their mental health struggles, as they did not want people to think they were weak or couldn’t cope. The study, conducted in October 2019 by TalkOut, an organisation created to remove the stigma surrounding mental health within the workplace, also found that – when workers do open up about their mental health problems – the consequences can sometimes be dire. As well as the six percent who believe they were dismissed as a result, 15 percent of people who spoke honestly about their problems felt like they were effectively sidelined, nine percent felt like they were never trusted again, while six percent claim to have been effectively demoted. Nearly half (45 percent) of the 2,000 workers surveyed said they’d seen someone pushed out of their job because of their mental health issues.

Well over a third of employees (37 percent) have had to take time off, but on their return, 14 percent said co-workers stopped talking to them, 13 percent got into arguments with colleagues and nine percent suspected they had become the subject of jokes. So, it’s no shock that 69 percent of Brits would feel deeply uncomfortable broaching the issue with their employer. And an overwhelming 93 percent of respondents believe management should be trained in dealing with mental health issues. This is reflected by senior managers themselves, with almost two thirds (64 percent) reporting that they did not have enough resources to support employees with mental health issues, and 53 percent saying they did not have procedures in place to help staff who were suffering from mental health problems.

Jill Mead, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TalkOut, comments: “The findings from our research are a real cause for concern and clearly demonstrate that not enough is being done to reduce the long-standing stigma and discrimination around mental health within the workplace.” “If we’re going to make any progress, mental health needs to stop being seen as a taboo, particularly in professional environments and there needs to be an understanding and acknowledgement that people with these mental health conditions can often thrive at work with the right support.”

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