Fewer than one in five comfortable with mental health conversations

Illustration of people's interior lives to depict mental health issuesAlthough around 1 in 7 people experience work-related mental health problems, a new survey claims that fewer than one in five people are confident about discussing mental health issues with colleagues. The survey of 1,000 people from insurance firm Protectivity claims that just 18 percent would be confident talking to their colleagues about their mental health. In addition, more than 1 in 10 people in the UK say they would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to their colleagues. The report concludes that not only is work needed to improve confidence but also the stigma of talking about mental health issues.

The report also claims that levels of confidence regarding discussions of mental health varies greatly across the nation. Scotland comes out as the most confident when it comes to talking about mental health in the workplace, with Edinburgh, in particular, standing out as leagues above all other cities in the UK, with 32 percent of people feeling confident about conversations related to the subject.

On the other end of the scale, workers in Leeds (8 percent) are  four times less likely to feel confident talking to colleagues than their counterparts in Edinburgh, followed closely by workers in Sheffield.In London, less than 1 in 5 (19 percent) workers feel confident they can talk to colleagues, however, this number does rise to over a quarter (26 percent) in the Greater London region. As good as the increase in the Greater London region and the figures from cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow are, these figures are well below half and signal that far more needs to be done to increase confidence in talking about mental health and wellbeing.


Sector differences

There are also differences between sectors. It’s perhaps unsurprising that people who work in Human Resources are the most likely to be confident in talking about their mental health (36 percent). However, interestingly, HR workers are also the most likely to feel ashamed or embarrassed talking to colleagues about their mental wellbeing (32 percent); suggesting that while they might be the ‘go to’ support for other employees, they might not have the same level of support that they feel they can talk to.

The Arts & Culture industry was found to have the second highest proportion of people who feel confident talking about mental health (33 percent), closely followed by workers in the IT & Telecoms professions (31 percent). The numbers coming out of the HR, Arts & Culture, and IT & Telecoms industries show that there is some confidence in talking to colleagues however, like the city and regional statistics, none meet or surpass the 50 percent mark; indicating that industries need to do far more to support their workers.

The least confident workers to talk about their mental health are those in Sales, Media and Marketing professions, where just 8 percent said they felt confident talking to colleagues and almost 1 in 4 (24 percent) would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to their colleagues. By comparison, just 11 percent of those in the legal profession would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to colleagues, yet, over 25 percent (26.3 percent) feel that they would still be nervous talking to colleagues about how they feel.