Two-thirds of workers fear sharing mental health condition with bosses

May 05, 2016

UK research finds only 35 per cent of employees feel comfortable telling employers about mental health issues, with worries about career progression topping their concerns.

The survey of 1,388 British workers reflects what we see here in Australia – that people who have experienced a mental health condition fear damage to job prospects (33 per cent), not getting the right support (30 per cent), concern their manager would not understand (28 per cent) or think less of them (23 per cent).  

So what does this mean for your workplace? Given that one in five employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition at any given time, if you manage 15 people, three are likely to going through a tough time – and two of them aren’t telling you about it.

Creating an open environment where people feel comfortable asking for support is a win-win – employees get the help and understanding they need; your team’s productivity is likely to get a boost as staff are able to get back to their best and absences go down.

As Mike Blake, director at Willis PMI Group, which commissioned the research, points out: “It is unlikely we would ever see a case with physical illness where most people are unwilling to report it to management, so companies must ensure employees with mental health issues do not suffer in silence.”

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Information and resources for managers

  • Speak openly about mental health in the workplace – talk about it like you would any other health condition.
  • Make it clear that anyone who discloses a mental health condition will be supported – find out more about what sort of practical things you can do to help
  • Understand your legal responsibilities
  • Download our Managing someone with a mental health condition fact sheet and build your confidence
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    Information and resources for employees

    The decision of whether to disclose a mental health condition at work is a personal one and will depend on a number of factors – whether your condition affects your work, your relationship with your boss and colleagues, and your support network outside work, for example. If you’re unsure, our pros and cons tool can help you weigh up your options.

    It’s also important to understand your legal rights and the steps you can take if you’ve been discriminated against at work. 

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