Fifth of workers fake physical illness to cover up mental health issues

Fifth of workers fake physical illness to cover up mental health

A fifth (42 percent) of UK employees call in sick claiming a physical illness, when in reality it’s a mental health issue and just 15 percent would tell their boss the truth about having a mental health issue a new report claims. According to the research from BHSF, over half (56 percent) of employees admitted to suffering from stress, a third from anxiety (36 percent) and a quarter from depression (25 percent). Despite 88 percent of employees suffering from poor mental health admitting that work is either the main cause or a contributing factor, just 15 percent would tell their boss if they were struggling with an issue of this nature. The new research also highlights the need for workplace support. The statistics show that just 21 percent of employees receive dedicated mental health support from their employer. Shockingly, this lack of employer support has led to an average of 8.4 sick days taken each year, per employee, due to a mental health problem.

Dr Philip McCrea, Chief Medical Officer at BHSF, commissioned this research to raise awareness of the impact of poor mental health on the workplace. He said: “The scale of this problem is huge – and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing.

“Although shocking, these findings don’t surprise me – this report must provide a reality check for employers, who need to be more proactive and focus on early intervention. A more open culture must be created in workplaces across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

“Mental health problems do not suddenly materialise. The vast majority of individuals suffering from poor mental health will show obvious signs, which are easy to spot in the workplace. Line managers, or nominated individuals, should be trained to spot the first signs.

“For employers, developing early intervention strategies is critical – this includes the provision of mental health first-aiders, providing adequate mental health training for managers, and resilience building for employees, amongst other things.”

BHSF’s latest report details further the scale of the issue, as well as directing employers on next steps to take, and warning signs to look out for. It also provides a nine-step conclusion, with advice for employers on creating a mentally healthy workplace.

“Mental health is currently costing the UK economy billions, and the cost of non-intervention is far greater than the cost of intervention,” he added.

“It’s up to employers to take a proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace before it’s too late.”