The fear of speaking up about mental health conditions at work

Aug 12, 2015

Employees reveal they fear that talking about their mental health condition at work could result in being overlooked for a promotion or moved to another post, survey shows.

Stigma and discrimination in the workplace continues to be a major issue, with international figures showing people would be unlikely to disclose a mental health condition to their employer for fear of repercussions.

A recent survey of Scottish workers found that 48 per cent were concerned they would lose their job by telling their employer about a mental health condition. The survey of more than 1,165 workers also revealed that 55 per cent felt the disclosure could result in being passed over for promotion or moved to another post.

Additionally, only 22 per cent thought that their co-workers had a good understanding of the importance of employee mental health. However, 83 per cent said they would want a better understanding if their colleague was experiencing mental health problems.

Judith Robertson, programme director at See Me, the Scottish program to end mental health stigma and discrimination, wrote this opinion piece on the subject. She believes the culture of workplaces needs to change so people can feel safe in speaking openly about their mental health.

Ms Robertson said there are many ways to improve the lives of employees living with mental health conditions, such as equal and fair recruitment processes, and ensuring those returning to work following ill-health are fully supported.

Heads Up has a range of resources to help workplaces become more mentally healthy, with practical tips and guides to support employees at all levels. These include:

Creating a mentally healthy workplace

  • Ready to take action but not sure how? This step-by-step guide can help you get started.   

Telling an employer about mental health issues

  • Deciding whether to tell your employer is a personal decision that’s different for everyone. If you’re unsure what’s right for you and your situation, our pros and cons tool can help you weigh up the issues.

Supporting a colleague

Someone you know at work experiencing mental health issues and don’t know how to help? We’ve got some great tips.

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