Most people still afraid to disclose a mental health problem to their employer
Posted Monday 19 December 2011
Mind and CIPD urge employers to get staff talking about mental health issues in 2012 as economic woes conspire to create the perfect ingredients for a surge in mental ill health.
The issue of mental ill health is still being swept under the carpet in most workplaces, with just four in ten employees saying they would feel confident to disclose a mental health problem to their employer.
That’s according to the latest research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), published today to coincide with the launch of a new guide to help more employers to manage and support mental health at work, which has been developed by CIPD and leading mental health charity Mind.
The survey of 2,000 people in employment in the UK1 reveals that despite more than a quarter (26%) of employees having experienced a mental health problem while in employment, too few employers are taking positive steps to manage this increasingly business critical issue.
Just 25% of respondents say their organisation encourages staff to talk openly about mental health problems and only 37% say their employer supports employees with mental health problems well.
The guide, Managing and supporting mental health at work – disclosure tools for managers (PDF), will help employers ensure that how they manage people supports their mental wellbeing and resilience, and also encourage more employees to talk about any mental health issues they may be facing at an early stage.
Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, comments:
Managing mental health at work is central to good business performance.
Stress is the number one cause of long-term sickness absence, but it is not just time lost to absence which impacts on the bottom line. Our survey highlights that the majority of people with poor mental health continue to attend work and report that it can impact on their ability to concentrate, make good decisions and provide effective customer service.
It is estimated that this presenteeism costs UK businesses £15.1 billion2 per year in reduced productivity, while mental health related sickness absence costs £8.4 billion2.
The guidance underlines that managing and supporting mental health at work is integral to good people management.
To a large degree this is about how managers interact with staff on a day to day basis and the extent to which they build working relationships based on mutual trust and confidence, for example, by managing workloads effectively and providing appropriate feedback, coaching and support where necessary.
Managers are the eyes and ears of organisations, so need to be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to enable them to pick up on the early warning signs and intervene where employees are struggling.
Mental ill health is usually caused by a complex interaction between pressures at work and at home, so increasing worries about debt, home repossession and job insecurity, as the economy continues to remain depressed, may well lead to a surge in mental ill health.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
This research shows that there is still a long way to go until workers feel able to discuss their mental health openly in work, enabling them to get the support they need.
With 1 in 4 people surveyed having experienced mental ill health, this is an issue that will touch almost every workplace in the country.
Supporting staff through a difficult period does not have to cost the earth and can have huge benefits for any organisation.
This new guide provides advice for managers to help them foster an environment where staff can feel comfortable to disclose a mental health problem, and simple information to support their employees through any period of mental ill health to help their recovery.
- Women are significantly more likely to report experiencing a mental health problem while in employment (31%) than men (22%).
- In all, 25% of respondents say their current mental health is moderate (21%) or poor (4%) compared to 41% that describe their mental health as good and 33% that say it is very good.
- Nearly two thirds of employees with poor mental health say that this is the result of a combination of problems at work and outside work in their personal life. Just 15% of respondents with poor mental health say this is due to work alone and 20% say their problems are solely down to problems outside work in their personal lives.
- Just over a third of respondents say their employer supports employees with mental health problems well. In contrast 21% of workers say their employer does not support mental health at work well, while 31% do not know what support is available, suggesting poor communication is part of the problem
- People working in the voluntary sector (39%) and public sectors (37%) are significantly more likely than those in the private sector (23%) to say they have experienced a mental health problem
- Those respondents who report they have experienced mental health problems while in employment in the past are much less likely to say that their current mental health is good.
- Employee Outlook - Focus on Managing and supporting mental health at work (2011)
- Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007).
Notes to Editors
- Ben Willmott and Mind spokespeople are available for interview.
- The CIPD’s Employee Outlook – Focus on Managing and Supporting Mental Health at Work (PDF) is based on an online survey of 2,068 UK employees conducted by YouGov from 16–21 September 2011. This survey was administered to members of the YouGov Plc UK panel of more than 285,000 individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. The sample was selected and weighted to be representative of the UK workforce in relation to sector and size (private, public, voluntary), industry type and full-time/part-time working by gender.
Download the full survey report (PDF).
- Managing and supporting mental health at work: disclosure tools for managers (PDF) was developed jointly by CIPD and Mind to help managers overcome the challenges associated with mental ill health in the workplace. The tools address the whole lifecycle of employment, from recruitment, through keeping people well and managing a disability or ill health at work, to supporting people to return to work after a period of absence. Download the guide (PDF).
- At the CIPD Well Being for High Performance Conference in February 2012, Catherine Kilfedder, Group Health Advisor at BT, will deliver a seminar on Managing and Mitigating Stress and Mental Health in the Workplace, which will help delegates understand the impact of job insecurity, reduced resources and increased workload on workplace stress and mental health and give employers guidance on how to proactively address the issues that lead to stress and mental health issues in the workplace.
- The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the world’s largest Chartered HR and development professional body, setting global standards for best practice in HR. With over 135,000 members across 120 countries, the CIPD is focused on supporting and developing those responsible for the management and development of people within organisations.
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales, working to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
CIPD Press Enquiries: Robert Blevin / Katy Askew / Katie Breeze, Tel: 020 8612 6400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org