UK Study: Many Managers Struggle to Recognize Mental Health Issues

UK Study: Many Managers Struggle to Recognize Mental Health Issues

New research released by a UK healthcare provider finds that over one third of managers would have difficulty identifying mental health problems among their staff, People Management’s Emily Burt reported on Thursday:

The report from Bupa also found that a similar proportion (30 per cent) of those with line manager duties would not know what to do if somebody in their team did have issues with mental health. … Research published this week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that people in the UK are among the most depressed in the developed world, thanks in part to job dissatisfaction. According to the data, 10 per cent of 25 to 64-year-olds in the UK are suffering from depression, ranking the UK in joint seventh place out of 25 European and Scandinavian countries.

Mental health concerns are also having a growing impact on the British workforce: A study published this month by NHS Digital showed that the number of UK employees who had taken sick leave or been put on restricted duties due to mental and behavioral health problems had increased substantially in the past two years, with these issues accounting for nearly a third of all fit notes issued since late 2014.

US employers are also struggling to identify and address mental health challenges in the workplace: A survey conducted earlier this year found that one quarter of employers were unsure whether their employees were affected by mental health or substance abuse problems, and that many employers may be underestimating the prevalence of these issues in their workforce.

That survey also found that the vast majority of organizations offered an employee assistance program providing access to assessment, counseling, or mental health services, but very few employees actually used them. Taken together, these findings suggest a lack of communication in both directions: Managers are lacking in knowledge of their employees’ mental health concerns, and employees are unaware of the resources available to them, or unwilling to take advantage of those benefits.

In our research at CEB (now Gartner), we have found that the most effective benefits communications focus on helping employees understand the relevance of their benefits package, through thoughtful selection of content and methods of communication. Two-thirds of organizations, however, do not believe they are successful at encouraging employees to be informed consumers of their benefits. CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council members can read the full study here.

At our upcoming ReimagineHR event in Washington, DC, next month, Lydia Martinez, CHRO and SVP at Long & Foster Companies, will give a talk on mental health as the “not-so-hidden factor” in employee performance, discussing how employers can create a better work environment and improve the overall health of their workforce by training managers to recognize mental health issues and the ways they manifest in the workplace.