Rising numbers of employees face demotion, disciplinary action or dismissal for disclosing mental health issues

Business in the Community’s study shows shifting attitudes towards mental wellbeing at work 

Most UK employees have experienced mental health issues because of work yet over a million people face negative consequences after disclosing, according to a new report, Mental Health at Work published today by the charity Business in the Community in advance of World Mental Health Day.

YouGov surveyed over 3,000 people in work across the UK for the study, and found that three in five (60 per cent) employees have experienced mental health issues because of work. Yet despite 53 per cent of people feeling comfortable talking about mental health at work, a significant percentage of employees risk serious repercussions for disclosing a mental health issue. 15 per cent of employees face dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion after disclosing a mental health issue at work (compared to 9 per cent identified in similar research undertaken in 2016). Scaled up to the general working population, this could mean as many as 1.2 million people negatively affected for disclosing mental health problems.                                

The report highlights some significant improvement in attitudes towards mental health in the workplace. 84 per cent of employers acknowledge that they have a responsibility towards their employees mental wellbeing. And 91 per cent of mangers agree that what they do affects the wellbeing of their staff. However, despite this, less than a quarter (24 per cent) of managers have received any training in mental health. There also remains a pervasive culture of silence over mental health at work with three out of four people affected choosing not to involve anyone at work. 

Commenting on the findings, Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community said:

“Despite the increased prominence of mental health as a workplace issue it remains the elephant in the room that over a million people face serious repercussions for disclosing mental health issues to their employers. This report is an urgent call to action for collective leadership from employers to end this injustice and provide better support. It is time to challenge the myth that having a mental health issues equates to poor performance. We must equip managers with the knowledge and training to make the reasonable workplace adjustments that enable people to stay in work and thrive.”

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