UK workers face demotion, disciplinary action or dismissal for disclosing mental health issues

15% of employees who disclosed mental ill health face dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion, according to YouGov research launched today, supported by Mental Health at Work and commissioned by BITC.

60% of employees have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work, yet the research exposes a vast shortfall in the way that mental health is viewed in the workplace:

  • Less than a quarter (24%) of managers have received any training in mental health.
  • 35% report not having any workplace facilities or services to support employee mental health and wellbeing.
  • Only 11% of people felt able to disclose a mental health issue to their line manager.
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees are less likely to feel comfortable talking about mental health at work (43% compared to 54% of white employees).
  • Young people are more likely to have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition (39% vs 28% of employees in their 50s), but only a third of 18-29-year olds are comfortable talking with their managers about mental health compared to almost half of people in their 40s.

However, the study also reveals that there has been an overall improvement in attitudes to mental health in the workplace in the past year:

  • 84% of employers acknowledge that they have a responsibility towards their employees’ mental wellbeing.
  • 91% of managers agree that what they do affects the wellbeing of their staff.

Alison Pay, Marketing and Operations Director at Mental Health at Work says: “We urge all organisations to use these research findings as an opportunity to reassess their approach to mental health and begin to make real headway in removing the stigma. Businesses should ensure common language and literacy levels around understanding mental health and provide line managers with the practical skills to manage it as an integral part of daily, working life.”

“Organisations must identify the solutions that will be most practical and effective for their own set up, making best use of their existing assets and process.  This means a focus on bespoke, facilitated training supported by activities to embed the messages and provide the right support, such as masterclasses, 1:1 support and crisis prevention.”

“We’ve used this approach time and time again to make a positive difference to employee engagement, productivity and, ultimately, customer satisfaction across many industry sectors. By doing so, we will all reduce the stigma around mental health at work and provide employees with the confidence to be open and honest with their organisation.”

A full copy of the report is available here.

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