Would you feel comfortable talking about your mental health to your employer?

Our second Sunday Survey post relates to how comfortable people feel discussing their mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health in the Workplace Statistics

Depending on the study you view, either 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 employees will suffer from a mental health condition at some stage each year. 42% of employees have considered resigning their position due to workplace stress.

In fact, 32% of people say that work causes them more stress than anything else in their life. Mental health related sickness is the leading cause of absenteeism in the UK, costing on average £1,035 per employee per year! It is estimated that 90% of people who take a day off due to mental ill-health provided a different reason for their absence.

Given the high prevalence rates you would hope that businesses would take this issue seriously both for their employees and the businesses sake. FTSE 100 companies that have a solid well-being programmes, outperform other FSTE 100 companies that don’t, on average by 10%. So whether the employer has great compassion for their staff or just focuses on the profitability of the business, there is a strong need to tackle this issue head on.

Mental Health in the Workplace Survey Results

Given the obvious importance of the issue, we asked you if you would feel comfortable talking to your employer about your mental health. We gave you 4 options:

  • Yes I would
  • Yes, I have and it went well
  • I have and it went badly
  • No I would not

We had 663 replies. Before we show them, the caveat is that people not willing to talk about it, may also not feel willing to share their thoughts on social media. As such, no matter how the vote had gone, I would expect the ‘no’ vote to be larger than shown.

52% of people have already broached the subject at work, with their experiences being very mixed. 54% of people say it went well, leaving 46% of people who had a negative experience.

Of the 48% of people who haven’t broached the topic before, just 41% would feel comfortable doing so. Given the mixed results of others, that hesitancy is very understandable.

mental health at work

52% of people were either unwilling, or had a poor experience of discussing this topic. Surely is time for major changes to how business approaches mental health in the workplace.

What You Said

  • Gem Croft I’m really lucky to have a boss who is always there and completely understands my anxiety disorder. It’s not been the case in the past but it makes all the difference now!
  • Myfanwy Elizabeth Bundock In my previous employers it’s been uncomfortable and misunderstood. My current employer is an absolute god send and has been the most understanding I could have ever hoped for
  • Helen Colson I spoke to them (in person) but couldn’t get the words out very well. Then later that morning I text them to clarify exactly what I meant and they have been amazing about it ever since. I have been really poorly this year but they supported me through it and still do now I’m better.
  • David Shannon I did and my boss couldn’t wait to pass on my problem to HR. The boss only asked how I was doing twice in a 6 month period. HR didn’t follow through with my request for regular meetings with my boss that I asked for twice. At the end of the day I got sacked.
  • Lisa Kim LeVerne-Martin My employment was terminated after physical and mental issues 4 yrs ago. I feel ready to work again, but worry about disclosing why I’ve not worked since then. I feel i wouldn’t even get to interview stage. Employers ask why you left your last job, they wouldn’t employ someone with mental health issues.
  • Caroline McKenzie I didn’t have much choice, I broke down in the office one morning. Fortunately my manager at the time had experience in dealing with staff with mental health problems. As did her manager so I had a sympathetic reporting line.
  • Gemma Hayward I did and they made me redundant shortly thereafter. I would think twice next time!

What Next?

I have written previously about my experiences of mental health in the workplace, which thankfully have been very positive. If you are considering discussing this at your workplace, please use caution and perhaps discuss with colleagues you trust first. I gained confidence to discuss with my manager after I more informal discussions with others. I was assured by them that it would be well received – this can be an easier first step.

If you fall in the camp of having discussed and it having gone well, perhaps it is worth considering approaching the business to broaden their approach. I had made myself sick with worry over what the reaction would be. Knowing the reaction was positive spurred me on (once I returned to approaching being healthy) to push the company to be clearer with staff on this topic. Others in my business would have been in the same mental turmoil that I had been in. Their concerns could be removed but only if the business made a more public statement, so I pushed for changes. The link here shows you some of the material I have used in that process to improve mental health in the workplace. Feel free to use this, or ask me questions in the comments below.

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