42% of leisure workers would hide mental health issues

Nearly half of fitness and active leisure employees would hide mental health issues from bosses

As many as 42% of leisure workers would not be honest with their employer about the need to take time off for a mental health issue, a national study has revealed.

The Workforce state of mind survey 2021, which polled 1,140 individuals and employers across 81 organisations in the fitness and active leisure industry, discovered respondents would be worried about the negative consequences of sharing struggles with their bosses.

The report, backed by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), also found that more than half (53%) of those surveyed had experienced a mental health issue in the past 12 months, with 69% experiencing this at some point in their life.

“This is where workplace culture really matters because it can significantly influence how comfortable people feel sharing their mental health concerns and how able an organisation is to respond,” said Lindsey Simpson, survey author and co-founder of Workplace Mental Wealth.

“The global pandemic has disrupted daily routines causing distress and anxiety for many. We need to act now to support our workforce as the sector reopens and create healthier cultures for the longer term that position the importance of mental health on a par with physical health.”

The research also showed that 60% of employers had no wellbeing strategy in place that is communicated to employees.

While just over half (55%) stated their organisation has a process for regularly checking on the mental health of individual employees, less than a fifth (19%) of staff said anybody at work regularly asks them about it.

However, the report did find that 78% of leisure workers felt their line manager cared about their mental wellbeing and 79% said they felt effectively equipped to support a colleague who might approach them about a related issue, either directly or by signposting them to appropriate support, at work or otherwise.

The findings have prompted Workplace Mental Wealth to launch ‘The Good Work Pledge’, to drive a sector-wide commitment to positive change.

“The Pledge provides an opportunity for the sector to unite under a single ambition to drive positive action and cultural change that supports happiness, health and prosperity across all levels of the workforce,” said Katie Lewis, co-founder at Workplace Mental Wealth. “In return for the commitment, employers will be provided with resources and tools to help them take positive action.”