44% feel confident discussing stress or mental health issues with their employer

Emma Mamo 430

Less than half (44%) of respondents would not feel confident discussing unmanageable stress or mental health problems with their current employer or manager, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Its study of more than 2,000 employees also found that 31% of respondents have experienced a mental health problem at some point during their working life. This is a rise on the 26% that said the same in 2011. Of this group, 42% have had a problem in the last 12 months, to the extent where it has affected their health and wellbeing.

The research also found:

  • 46% of respondents feel their organisation supports mental health issues very or fairly well, compared to 37% in 2011.
  • 32% of respondents are offered a phased return to work to help manage mental health problems, while 30% are provided with access to flexible-working arrangements.
  • 27% of respondents are given access to occupational health to help with mental health issues and a further 27% have access to counselling services.
  • 3% of respondents have access to a mental health first aider and 5% can speak to a mental health champion.
  • 10% of respondents know that there is training for line managers which informs how to manage and support people who experience a mental health issue.

Rachel Suff, employment relations advisor at the CIPD, said: “With people’s experiences of mental health problems at work on the increase, it’s disappointing not to see more employers stepping up to address them. Mental health should get just as much attention, awareness and understanding as physical health, and employers have a responsibility to manage stress and mental health at work, making sure employees are aware of, and able to access, the support available to them.

“This agenda needs to be championed from the very top by business leaders and senior staff; either through role-modelling or open conversations about their own experiences. There’s also a clear role for HR professionals and line managers to ensure that employees are getting the support they need and feel they can speak up.

“It’s crucial that organisations work to promote an open and inclusive culture so that employees feel confident about disclosing mental health issues and discussing the challenges they are experiencing.

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“Promoting good mental health also makes good business sense, [because] employees are likely to be more engaged and productive if they work for an organisation with a workforce wellbeing strategy that emphasises the importance of both good mental and physical health.”

Emma Mamo (pictured), head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, added: “Creating mentally healthy workplaces needn’t be difficult or expensive. Often, it’s about putting in place small adjustments, such as regular communication and flexible-working hours.”