February 6, 2020
Three-quarters of UK employees who have experienced a mental health condition believe stigma around the issue has reduced over the past year but the vast majority would still not discuss their condition with their line managers, according to new research. Aviva’s “Health of the Workplace” report, released for Time to Talk Day, suggests that just 9 percent of employees who have had a mental health condition sought help from their line manager, 12 percent would discuss their condition with a work colleague and only 4 percent would talk to HR.
When conversations do take place, the survey of around 1000 employers and 2000 employees highlights a disconnect between line managers’ perceptions of how well they are supporting their colleagues and what employees say they experience. More than three-quarters of employers said they are “good at identifying when team members are under pressure”, yet only 37 percent of employees agreed with this statement.
Dr Subashini M, Associate Medical Director, UK Health & Protection at Aviva, said that it’s not enough for managers to have conversations about mental health. “The disconnect is apparent when tasks asked of employees do not change nor does the workplace culture, despite the acknowledgement of wanting to support mental health in the workplace.”
“When an employer commits to a ‘Time to Change’ pledge, it isn’t a ‘once and done.’ Employers have a vital role to play here. Employees should feel that they can be authentic at work, feel able to speak up about their mental health and be accepted by their line managers and colleagues”.
Employees should feel that they can be authentic at work, feel able to speak up and be accepted by their line managers and colleagues.
Stigma around poor mental health is fading
Despite managers’ shortcomings, the report suggests employees are increasingly mindful of their colleagues’ poor mental wellbeing. More than half of employees reported working with someone who experienced a mental health condition and three quarters said they were concerned and did their best to help. Just 5 percent were sceptical about whether their colleague actually ‘had an issue’.
There also appears to be a growing recognition that employees should not hide a mental health condition or put on a brave face if they are struggling. Some 88 percent of employers and 87 percent of employees agreed that ‘it’s OK not to feel OK’.
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