Mental health

Only 35% of workers in the UK who have suffered from mental health problems have talked to their manager about their issues, according to new research.

The study of nearly 1,400 workers by Willis PMI Group, part of global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, found that silence was particularly prevalent among young employees. Only 26% of 16-24 year olds said they talked to their manager, compared to 38% of 45-64 year olds.

The biggest reason why workers suffering with mental health issues do not talk to management is the fear it will impact upon job prospects. This was cit by 33% of those surveyed, followed by the worry they would not receive adequate support (30%), concern that their manager would not understand (28%) and the fear it might make management think less of them (23%).

Mike Blake, director at Willis PMI Group, said: "Mental illness remains an incredibly delicate subject and one that requires urgent attention from employers in order to better manage staff wellbeing and sickness absence.

"It is unlikely we would ever see a case with physical illness where most people are unwilling to report it to management, so companies must ensure employees with mental health issues do not suffer in silence. The proper recording of sickness and absence related to mental health is a crucial first step in tackling the problem, but this can only happen if staff are given the assurance they can report issues in confidentiality and without judgement."

The study also found that 30% of UK workers believe mental illness is a private issue that should be dealt with by the individual. Once more, older generations appear more open, with only 26% of 45-64 year olds holding the belief, compared with 32% of 16-44 year olds.

Workers were also found to be more open about mental health issues outside of work. Eighty-two per cent of those surveyed said they would talk to their family and friends if they were suffering from mental health issues.