Three quarters of young workers have faced mental health challenges

mental healthOver three-quarters (77 percent) of young workers in the UK have experienced mental health challenges, Accenture research suggests. In addition, nearly half (48 percent) of younger workers (aged 18-30) say they have experienced suicidal thoughts, but in organisations that are providing the right support, young workers were 37 percent less likely to have recent experience of a mental ill health challenge.

A near universal 92 percent of all workers have been touched by mental health challenges, found Accenture’s survey in partnership with workplace conference This Can Happen. Younger workers in the UK are more likely to have had recent mental ill health challenges than their more senior colleagues and nearly half (48 percent) of young workers said they have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings compared to 35 percent of older workers.

Despite having more experience of such challenges, younger workers find it more difficult to talk about their own issues than more senior colleagues. 45 percent of younger workers hold back because of not having the language to express how they feel, versus 22 percent of older workers.

Furthermore, younger workers report more feeling more pressure in their lives than older colleagues. Four in 10 workers aged 18-30 said pressure from work and concerns about their own health affected them on a daily or weekly basis, while one in three worried about the health of someone close to them (32 percent).

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The incidence of employees with recent or current experience of a mental health challenge was lower in the more supportive cultures[/perfectpullquote]

“It’s clear that many young people face challenges with their mental health before they enter the workforce and while working, and that they are affected more often than their senior peers,” said Barbara Harvey, managing director and mental health lead for Accenture UK. “Therefore, mental health must be a priority issue for employers. Businesses need to look at how they can create an open, supportive work environment which enables employees of all ages to look after their mental health, support one another, and perform at their best.”

The research found that where organisations create a supportive, open culture around mental wellbeing it makes a significant difference to the way employees feel and their ability to thrive. The incidence of employees with recent or current experience of a challenge was lower in the more supportive cultures; this was especially true for younger workers with 41 percent having recent experience in more supportive companies, and 65 percent in the less supportive cultures.  Employees in more supportive cultures were 4 times more likely to say that work positively impacted their mental health.

“With this survey we hope that many employers will examine their recruitment, induction and management styles to support younger members of their workforce” comments Zoe Sinclair, Co-founder of This Can Happen.