Only 4% of employees speak to their manager about depression

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Health Assured team

20 February 2017

Firms mistakenly believe staff are comfortable talking about mental health
  Employees will very rarely discuss a mental health issue with their employer, a survey suggests. The poll of 2,000 employees found nearly two in five (39%) who had experienced depression felt they could speak with their spouse/partner about it, yet only 4% felt they could talk with their manager.   One in three (30%) who had experienced unacceptably high levels of pressure felt they could speak with friends, with only 10% feeling they could discuss it with their manager.   Those who had experienced anxiety felt the same, with 20% feeling they could speak with their parents but only 5% believing they could speak with their manager about the issue, the survey shows.   This contrasts with what employers believe, as 78% of the 200 managing directors surveyed thought employees feel comfortable talking about mental health issues with their employer.   The research also found that 32% of employees who have experienced depression, 31% who have experienced anger and 21% who have experienced unacceptable levels of pressure felt they could not speak with anyone about it.   Excerpt from Health Insurance Daily, read the full article here.  

Mental Health in the Workplace

It is vital that employers understand the impact that mental health can have in the workplace. Far more people are having positive, open and healthy discussions about mental health than they used to, but there still remains a long way to go with many more barriers to overcome. We have provided some information and guidance below to help you make sure that your organisation is on the tide of change and sets the example for others to follow.  

Noticing the signs

  • An employee having issues with their mental health will often display clear signs of their struggle which could be physical, behavioural or psychological.
  • Sometimes it can be as simple as paying attention to what an employee talks about, whether that be relationships, family, finances, or a ‘hectic’ or ‘isolated’ home life.

Understanding the stigma

  • 30% of employees feel that they would not be comfortable approaching their line manager for help with poor mental health and stress.
  • The ‘stigma’ around discussing mental health still prevails. Employees may feel like they shouldn’t feel the way that they do and will be judged if they share their experiences with colleagues or management.
  • Employees are more likely to hide their feelings if they feel expected to be ‘ok’ and that the company requires them to deal with problems in their own time, leaving any issues at the door. These employees are far more fearful of losing their job than of seeking help.

Taking action

  • Remind the employee that they have access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) either by phone or online.
  • Offer support by creating ‘Mental Health Champions’ roles in the workplace and develop flexible working conditions where available/appropriate.
  • Listen and offer assistance where appropriate, be that emotional support or practical advice. If you feel you can’t offer this support to your employee directly, don’t forget that the EAP service offers assistance to managers too.
  • Labelling can worsen the stigma of mental health issues. Take a positive approach and focus on offering relevant support in the workplace. Avoid trying to “self-diagnose” the issue, that’s what the experts are for.
  • For further assistance download the Health Assured five step managers guide for supporting mental health in the workplace.
  For more advice for supporting staff with mental health issues, see the support guide from Health Assured here.

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