The report of nearly 20,000 employees within the workplace found that more than three quarters of employees have experienced symptoms of poor mental health in their lives, and for 62 per cent of employees work has been a contributing factor to poor mental health. Despite this, over half of employees who disclosed symptoms of poor mental health said that their employer took no mitigating actions and only 22 per cent of managers have had relevant mental health training at work.
The report finds bosses are disconnected from the reality of employee experiences. 60 per cent of board members believe their organisation supports people with mental ill health and 97 per cent of senior managers believe that they are accessible if employees want to talk about mental health.
However, 63 per cent of managers believe that they are obliged to put the interests of their organisation above the wellbeing of team members, and 49 per cent of employees would not talk to their manager about a mental health issue.
“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,” said Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community.
“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.”
Managers do want to help – 76 per cent believe that staff wellbeing is their responsibility, yet 80 per cent say organisational barriers prevent them from delivering on this. The result is that default responses to supporting employees with poor mental health are time off work and a job change, both of which go against what employees want and best practice.
Louise Aston continued: “It is good that mental wellbeing is on the radar for leaders and managers, but this is still not translating into the right workplace cultures or adequate support for employees experiencing poor mental health.
“Employers must accept the scale of mental ill health in the workplace and start taking a preventative approach now. This means getting the work culture right in the first place so that they promote good work and work life-balance. Progress will only happen when employers approach mental ill health as they would physical ill health – doing what they can to prevent ill health occurring or escalating, and ensuring proper support for employees when it happens. Employees must feel that the workplace is supportive of, rather than, detrimental to their mental health.”