05 October 2017
British Workers Are Battling with Mental Health in ‘Silence’
Research has shown that 60 per cent of workers in the UK have suffered with a mental health issue as a direct result of their job.
And 15 per cent of those who asked for help shockingly faced dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion.
The survey polled 3,000 workers and found 77 per cent of our workforce have battled with some form of mental health issue but only one in ten felt they were able to talk to their line manager about it.
Although mental health has been positively thrust into the spotlight in recent months after Prince Harry his on-going battle with the death of his mother, Princess Diana, it’s clear a lot of work still needs to be done to challenge the taboo subject.
Despite 53 per cent of people saying they felt comfortable talking about mental health at work, a mere 11 per cent said they felt they were able to disclose it to their line manager.
Employers must provide their employees with a safe system to help prevent staff from getting ill, whether that means your physical or mental health.
Employment lawyer, Ivor Adair, says: “Employers must provide their employees with a safe system to help prevent staff from getting ill, whether that means your physical or mental health.
“If you are scared by the prospect of disclosing a mental health illness to your employer you can request a confidential discussion with your relevant line-manager or HR officer. You should not suffer unfair treatment as a result of your mental health condition if it is a disability- in fact, if your disability puts you at a substantial disadvantage compared to others your employed may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
“Reasonable adjustments are making changes in the workplace in ways in which work is carried out so as to remove barriers to work for employees with disabilities, including non-physical ones.
“Anything that costs less than it would to hire or train a new employee in the role could be considered reasonable and the adjustments are quite simple.”
Matt, a 27 year-old had a “really bad experience at a former employer”, which led to depression and anxiety. He says the company offered no help when he shared his plight and even forced him to resign.
Matt says: “In June 2015 I tried to take my own life, mostly due to stress and workload at work.
“We had lost several members of staff without them being replaced, but the trigger was an incident at work where I defended someone and came under attack. I challenged my senior manager when I knew he’d offended some colleagues and he replied with ‘I don’t care’.
“When I told that same manager I had been signed off due to stress he replied ‘no one else has a problem’. He even tried to convince me to resign.”
Matt took his employment to tribunal with the help of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) but settled before the first hearing reached court.
Matt adds: “Part of me wishes I had my ‘day in court’ but by this point, months after I ended up on long-term sick and having my pay cut off, I needed the money.
“I went from taking 100 plus phone calls a day, handling orders in excess of £1m to being unable to make or take phone calls and crying when trying to handle basic paperwork.”
Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community: “Millions of employees are suffering in silence and feel unable to share their experiences at work. When they do reach out, many are met with an inadequate response.
“Our findings show that we need more openness, more training and information, and more support for employees and managers.”
“It is good that mental wellbeing is on the radar for leaders and manages, but this is still not translating into the right workplace cultures or adequate support for employees experiencing poor mental health.
“Employees must accept the scale of mental ill health in the workplace and start taking a preventative approach now.
“This means getting the work culture right in the first place so that they promote good work and work life-balance.”