Mental health still not supported in workplace


Mental health still not supported in workplace

By Charlotte Fantelli

Despite a cost of £15 billion a year in reduced productivity and £8.4 billion in absenteeism, employers are still refusing to address the mental health of their workforce, a new report reveals.

A revealing new survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows a lack of mental health understanding and support in the workplace.

The first thing that stood out to me when reading the results of this survey, was that over a quarter (26%) of employees disclosed that they had experienced a mental health problem. While this on the surface seems to mirror the ‘1 in 4’ statistic, these figures actually shed new light on just how many people in the workplace have suffered a mental health problem. It also shows that perhaps ‘1 in 4’ is a conservative estimate, as this statistic has previously taken into account the unemployed and those with serious mental illness who are unable to work.

The survey also reveals that most workers are still not confident to disclose a mental health problem, and a large percentage do not know what help or support is available in their workplace.

The main findings of the survey include:

  • 31% of people questioned did not know what support was available to them in their workplace
  • Only four in ten people said they felt ‘confident’ to disclose a mental health problem in the workplace.
  • While only 25% said their workplace ‘encourages’ employees to discuss mental health concerns
  • 37% of people surveyed said their employer well supports employees with mental health problems
  • While 21% of workers said their employer does not support mental health at work well
  • Mental health issues were more likely to affect workers in the public and voluntary sectors than those in private organisations

The study was also revealing as to what the people surveyed attributed to their mental ill-health

  • Most employees with poor mental health (nearly 2/3) said it was a combination of work and personal factors that contributed to their condition
  • 15% said their mental ill-health was due to work alone
  • While 20% attributed their conditions to problems outside the workplace.

"Our survey highlights that the majority of people with poor mental health continue to attend work” said Ben Willmott, CIPD head of public policy.

The survey reveals it is not just mental health related absence that is a cost to employers; it is also lost productivity when a staff member is unable to work effectively. It is therefore of paramount importance that employees take seriously the needs of their staff and recognize and put in place effective policies that support the emotional and mental health needs of their employees.

“It is estimated that this presenteeism costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year in reduced productivity, while mental health-related sickness absence costs £8.4 billion." Mr Willmott continued

 “Managers are the eyes and ears of organisations, so need to be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to enable them to pick up on the early warning signs and intervene where employees are struggling.” He concludes.

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