Opinion  

57% of UK employees have experienced a mental health problem

Canada Life

Although 52% of those who haven’t experienced mental health problems acknowledge there is stigma attached around it, some worrying perceptions still exist: 16% of non-sufferers agreed with the statement “everyone gets stressed and to treat it like a physical illness is an overreaction”.

One in ten (10%) believe people place too much emphasis on the seriousness of mental health.

Some non-sufferers are still uncertain about the need to take time off work to recover from mental health issues. Almost one in ten (9%) of those who have not experienced this said they would feel sceptical if an employee took time off work for a mental health problem and 6% would feel frustrated by the extra workload this would create for them.

Paul Avis, marketing director of Canada Life Group, comments: “It’s evident 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. Services such as Employee Assistance Programmes and vocational rehabilitation – an integral part of most group income protection products – can play an active role in aiding treatment and recovery.

“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.”