Mental health: Public vs Private sector

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Health Assured team

06 June 2017

Wellbeing support is worse in the public sector than in the private sector, according to a major survey by the mental health charity Mind.

The survey of over 12,000 employees across the public and private sectors found there is a higher prevalence of mental health at work problems in the public sector, as well as a lack of support available when people do speak up. Of those with a mental health problem, 90 percent of public sector staff disclosed it to their employer, compared with 80 percent in the private sector.

When taking time off for mental health reasons, 69% of public sector workers were honest about the reason for needing time off, compared with 59 percent of private sector staff. 38% of public sector employees said that culture allowed staff to be open about mental health problems, compared with 29% in the private sector. The UK public sector employs over 5.4 million people, almost 3 million of whom are employed by central Government alone.

Mind’s survey found that public sector workers were over a third more likely to say their mental health was poor than their peers in the private sector (15% versus 9%), and far more likely to say they have felt anxious at work on several occasions over the last month (53% compared to 43%). The impact on the sector is significant.

Public sector survey respondents said that, on average, they had taken nearly three days off sick in the last year, compared to just under one day on average for workers in the private sector. Almost half (48 percent) of public sector workers have had time off because of their mental health, compared with less than a third (32 percent) of the private sector workforce.

How can you support your employees mental health?

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support employees mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.

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