One in three British employees reported that they continue to work in spite of experiencing mental health issues, according to new research from employee wellbeing and performance organisation GoodShape.
The study was conducted by YouGov with 2,000 adults and found that 55% felt worried to call in sick with mental health problems, compared with 30% when reporting a physical illness. In the last year, only 8% took sickness absence due to a mental health condition.
The sectors worst impacted by this are the medical and health services, and education, with 50% of employees in these sectors continuing to work through mental health problems. Meanwhile, 44% of those in media and marketing admitted to being affected.
More than two-thirds (69%) of those in the legal sector were worried to report a mental health-related absence from work, followed by education (64%), and transportation and distribution (58%).
Women revealed that they are more worried than men about reporting mental health-related absences, at 60% versus 50% respectively, and younger employees are more worried than older ones, at 67% versus 46% respectively.
One-quarter said they have little or no understanding of mental health first aiders, and 16% have never heard of one. When asked to rank who they would be most comfortable speaking to about a mental health condition at work, only 11% said a mental health first aider first, compared to 55% who stated an independent mental health specialist.
Alun Baker, chief executive officer of GoodShape, said: “These findings are a reminder to employers and HR professionals of the importance of properly understanding the health issues, physical or mental, affecting their people. Every organisation is different, and while mental health first aid is popular, other initiatives may support your particular workforce more effectively.
“Presenteeism is a false economy for employers. By being more proactive about understanding employee wellbeing and removing barriers so employees can be open about their health challenges, leaders can make targeted changes for measurable improvement down the line. It makes sense, not only for the health of our employees but our businesses too.”