Four in five workers avoid mental health discussions

A new survey has found that four in five British workers won’t discuss mental health problems with their boss because they fear being stigmatised and judged incapable.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health says that the findings, released ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) demonstrate that mental health remains ‘a taboo’ in many workplaces and is urging businesses to develop ‘prevention-first”’ approaches to dealing with it.

With line managers reluctant to bring up the subject with their staff because they are concerned they will say or do the wrong thing, the findings also revealed that 80 per cent of the 400 workers surveyed won’t discuss mental health with their line manager; 25 per cent of employees would be more comfortable discussing mental health with a colleague; and 22 per cent of line managers rarely discuss mental health with their direct reports, with a further 11 per cent never doing so.

Additionally, the results also reveal that 62 per cent of line managers don’t get enough help from their organisation to support the mental well-being of their staff, with only 31 per cent of respondents saying they have been sufficiently trained to recognise the signs of poor mental health.

Duncan Spencer, head of Advice and Practice at IOSH, said: “These survey results are deeply worrying. They demonstrate that while much work has been done to remove the stigma of mental health, is still a taboo in many workplaces.

“Businesses need to work hard to break down these taboos, by creating more open lines of communication. Line managers are vital in creating workplaces that are positive for people’s mental health and well-being, but they need to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to do this. We encourage businesses to create a prevention-first approach to managing mental health and well-being.”

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