On World Mental Health Day, a Spotlight on the UK

On World Mental Health Day, a Spotlight on the UK

In commemoration of World Mental Health Day, observed each year on October 10, several UK organizations have published new studies examining the mental health of the British workforce. Sara Bean at Workplace Insight takes a look at one, which paints a dismal picture of employees’ comfort with talking about stress and mental health issues in the workplace, even though such issues are widespread:

Almost half of UK workers (44 percent) know a colleague who has had to give up work because of stress, while more than a third of people (36 percent) say that colleagues have complained about feeling stressed to their employer, but received no support. As a result, most people (56 percent) don’t feel comfortable talking about depression or stress in the workplace. The fourth annual Employee Insight Report from Capita Employee Benefits, released to coincide with World Mental Health Day today (October 10) suggests that stigmas remain and companies should be doing more to encourage their workers to open up about mental health issues. The findings reveal that just 33 percent would feel comfortable talking to their employer if they have a mental health issue, like depression; 75 percent of respondents said they have felt stressed at work over the last 12 months but only 20 percent have taken time off work because of stress.

Last week, the UK charity Business in the Community and YouGov released a major report on mental health in the workplace, the findings of which are similarly troubling: 77 percent of UK employees said they had experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives and 29 percent had been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Additionally, 62 percent of employees attributed their mental health symptoms to work or said work was a contributing factor, but only 11 percent had discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager. Most managers, for their part, feel responsible for promoting employee wellbeing, but only 22 percent had received training on mental health at work.

Meanwhile, Changeboard flags another survey of trade union health and safety representatives, who say workplace stress remains a major concern for them as well:

The report, published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), found that seven in ten reps cited stress as a problem, up 3% from a similar survey conducted in 2014. … Public sector workers are particularly like to be dealing with stress, as employees are concerned by government cuts. Some 93% of reps in central government offices cited stress in their top five workplace hazards, with respondents working in education (89%) and health services (82%) also highly concerned. This concern does not appear confined to businesses of a particular profile, as stress is the most common hazard faced by reps in companies of all sizes. The number of reps from medium-sized companies (50-99 employees) concerned by stress levels increased to 75% from 62%.