More than half (57%) of employees have experienced a mental health problem while in employment, according to research by Canada Life Group Insurance.
Its research, based on responses from 1,000 workers, also found that 51% of those who have suffered from mental health issues have taken time off from work because of it, yet 20% of the same group feel too embarrassed to take time off work as a result.
Some 14% of these respondents took longer than a month off, and 5% were away from work for over six months.
Among respondents who have experienced a mental health problem, the study also found:
- 60% stated that their mental health issues have negatively impacted their performance at work.
- 43% have suffered from stress and around a quarter (26%) have experienced depression.
- A quarter (25%) of respondents blame high pressure and excessive workloads for negative impacts on mental health.
- 19% say their work has a negative impact on their mental health.
- 15% stated that their mental health worries were caused by unpleasant behaviour from a boss or workplace bullying.
- 44% of respondents who have experienced a mental health issues wanted to take time off but felt unable to do so, 9% felt their employer would view them differently as a result, and 11% were too scared to ask their employer.
- More than half (53%) of respondents have not made their employer aware of their mental health problem, and 49% cite privacy as their reason for not doing so.
- 18% are too embarrassed to tell their colleagues about their mental health issue.
- 67% of respondents who discussed their mental health problem with their employer felt their reaction was positive and 39% were offered some form of support.
Among respondents who have not experienced a mental health issue, the research found:
- One in six believe those who treat stress like a physical illness are overreacting.
- 10% believe there is too much emphasis placed on the seriousness of the issue and 9% would feel sceptical if an employee took time off because of a mental health issue.
Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group, said: “It’s evident that far more needs to be done to combat mental health problems in the workplace, and recognise it deserves equal footing to physical health. Stress and depression are serious issues and need to be treated as such.
“The implications of ignoring mental health, or seeing it as less important than physical health, are hugely damaging to employee wellbeing and business culture.
“Too often, mental health is swept under the carpet and ignored, either because of the stigma surrounding it or a lack of employer procedures in place, despite being something that affects more than half the UK workforce at some point in their working lives. It’s therefore vital that employers have a clear and well-communicated method of helping employees with mental health problems.
“It’s in the interest of all employers to not only provide a safety net for those suffering with mental health problems, but crucially to be proactive. Tackling these issues early will give the best results for employees’ wellbeing, in turn, boosting their productivity.”