Canadian study shows mixed attitudes on talking about mental health at work

Feb 09, 2015

A recent Canadian study found that while nearly 40 per cent of workers experiencing a mental health issue wouldn't tell their manager, more than half those surveyed wanted to support colleagues with anxiety or depression.

The survey, Worker attitudes towards mental health problems and disclosure, revealed that employees have mixed attitudes about mental health in the workplace.

According to a statement from the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which undertook the research, a positive relationship with their manager was the key reason given by those who would reveal that they had a mental health issue. Supportive organisational policies were cited by half of those who would disclose as another factor influencing their decision.

Among the 38 per cent who would not tell their manager, more than half were afraid of a negative impact on their career prospects. Other reasons included the bad experiences of others who talked about their mental health condition, fear of stigmatising attitudes, or a combination of these factors.

Starting the conversation - how Heads Up can help

The Heads Up website has guidance and resources to help organisations tackle stigma and support employees with anxiety or depression, including tools to help you with some of the following issues.  

  • If you've noticed changes in a colleague's behaviour, checking in and asking if they're ok could make a huge difference. 
  • Managers also have an important role to play in creating a supportive environment where people feel safe to talk about any issues they're having. This fact sheet provides a practical overview of how you can better support someone with anxiety or depression in the workplace. 
  • The decision to tell your employer about your mental health condition is a personal one that's different for everyone. If you're unsure about what's right for you, we can help you weigh up the pros and cons

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