Health Lifestyle

Most employees will discuss a mental health issue with someone but that is rarely their employer, a survey by insurer Legal & General has found.Nearly two in five (39 per cent) of those who had experienced depression felt they could speak with their spouse/partner about it, yet only four per cent felt they could talk with their manager. One in three (30 per cent) of employees who had experienced unacceptably high levels of pressure felt they could speak with friends, with only 10 per cent feeling they could discuss it with their manager.

Those who had experienced anxiety felt the same, with 20 per cent feeling they could speak with their parents but only 5% believing they could speak with their manager about the issue.

This contrasts with what employers believe, as 78 per cent of those surveyed think employees feel comfortable talking about mental health issues with their employer.

Legal & General’s research surveyed over 2,000 full-time employees and 200 Managing Directors or HR Managers from a range of different sized companies, and aims to highlight the work that still needs to be done to address the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

Unfortunately, 32 per cent of those employees who have experienced depression, 31% who have experienced anger and 21 per cent of those who have experienced unacceptable levels of pressure felt they could not speak with anyone about it, emphasising the work that still needs to be done to provide employees with the support they need.

A large proportion of employees say they have experienced depression (40 per cent), anger (22 per cent) or unacceptably high levels of pressure (25 per cent) and, for over half (51 per cent) of them, it’s happening at least once a week on average. These are clear indications of a current mental health issue that employers should be aware of and support.

Indications that problems may be developing were similarly common: trouble sleeping (51 per cent), tension (30 per cent) or panic attacks (22 per cent). For these conditions, between 27 per cent and 69 per cent of those surveyed mentioned they experienced one of these conditions weekly or more often.

Martin Noone, Managing Director, Legal & General Workplace Health and Protection, said: "Our research demonstrates there is much more work to do to change the perception of mental health and the stigma attached to it. It seems that the workplace has, in the main, become a place for ‘suffering in silence’.

“Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’ are vital in raising awareness of this. Since joining the campaign in 2013 Legal & General has regularly enhanced the mental health support and services available to staff. The latest development is a team of Mental Health First Aiders trained to recognise symptoms in others and be able to support them.

“With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem each year, it’s time for employers to work on their approach and start creating workplaces that are mentally healthy."

Legal & General is planning a major initiative this year to encourage more openness in the workplace for those life-saving discussions around the mental wellbeing of employees."

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