57% of millennials feel uncomfortable discussing mental health at work

Over half (57%) of millennial employees do not feel comfortable disclosing mental health or psychological conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression, in the workplace, according to research from Reed.co.uk.

The research, conducted among 2,000 UK workers, found that Millennials, those born between 1986 and 1991, are less likely to open up to colleagues, while only 45% of Baby Boomers, those aged 57 to 75, said they would not want to talk about their mental health.

However, 73% of Baby Boomers have never taken a sick day due to their mental health; but 66% of Gen Z employees have done so.

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Only 23% of those employees who have previously suffered from a mental health condition in the past said they felt comfortable taking a sick day when needed.

The research found a difference in attitudes between genders as well: over half of all men surveyed (54%) said they are uncomfortable discussing mental health conditions with their colleagues, whereas 49% of women said the same.

But women are more worried about negative perceptions of themselves if they were to take a day off sick for mental health reasons, with 42% citing this as the main reason stopping them from taking a day off, versus 37% of men.

The most common reason as to why talking about mental health is still perceived as slightly taboo in the workplace, cited by two-fifths (39%) of people, was that they feel they would be judged negatively if they opened up about their mental health.

Just over a third (36%) stated they would feel too exposed and vulnerable, and this rose to 43% of Gen Z, the highest of all age groups asked.

Nevertheless there are encouraging signs that conversations around mental health are opening up: nearly a third (32%) of UK workers report seeing their colleagues open up about their mental health and receive a positive response, which has led to them feeling comfortable doing so too.

Simon Wingate, UK managing director at Reed.co.uk, said: “We are seeing conversations about mental health becoming far more commonplace in our real lives, but there’s still some way to go in our working lives as our latest research reveals.

“We’re on a mission to help people Love Mondays every day in their jobs, and a huge part of that is ensuring people feel they can bring their whole self to work and are comfortable and able to open up about any potential mental health challenges.

“We need to ensure we are encouraging employers to create safe, inclusive working environments that workers feel comfortable being themselves in, and we need to empower jobseekers and employees to feel confident if they need to speak up about their mental health. This open dialogue between co-workers will lead to greater job satisfaction and productivity, and ultimately a happier and healthier workforce.”