Mental health seen as employer’s responsibility by 97% of staff

Around half (51%) of respondents are aware that their organisation has a mental health policy, but only represents approximately half of the 97% that believe their employer has a responsibility to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff, according to research by professional recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

The importance of mental health strategies in attracting top talent, which surveyed 3,000 UK professionals, also found that 76% think individuals at their place of work would be uncomfortable discussing mental health. The key barriers cited were concerns about how they might be perceived by peers (82%), fear of harming their career prospects (78%), embarrassment (76%) and worries that they would not be trusted with more responsibility (69%).

Chris Hickey (pictured), UK chief executive officer at Robert Walters, said: “In our own industry, we have seen a shift in professionals wanting to know more about a prospective employer’s approach towards mental health and wellbeing. However, many employees (64%) are finding this information difficult to come by, not helped by the fact that just 3% of [organisations] mention mental wellbeing strategies in job adverts.

“As a result, more and more professionals (42%) are resorting to using employer review sites to find out about an organisation’s mental health policy.”

Around a quarter (23%) of those surveyed strongly agree that attitudes towards mental health in the workplace have changed in recent years. More than three-quarters (79%) feel that if managers make it clear that mental health is a priority, this would be highly effective in encouraging conversations around mental wellbeing at work; however, only 36% of respondents in management roles think this approach would have an impact.

Approximately 17% of professionals state that their organisation has a partnership with an external mental health or wellbeing organisation, although 89% recognise that this strategy could bring benefits. Only 18% of employees outside of the HR function receive mental health training.

Hickey added: “Just 6% of hiring managers specifically recruit staff with expertise in mental health and, of these, less than 10% feel that their skills are being used as effectively as possible.

“In addition to reviewing the recruitment process in order to seek professionals with specific skills and experience of dealing with mental health barriers in the workplace, employers should review their current workforce to identify staff who already possess expertise in the field and help to train them up.”