How confident are you when discussing mental health at work?

While the importance of discussing mental health has become increasingly prevalent in the last few years, the results of a survey by Protectivity show that there is still a long way to go in beating the stigma

Mental health issues affect one-in-four people in the UK each year, but have only started to be openly discussed relatively recently. Mental health issues can emerge from a variety of factors; one key cause derives from the workplace, as one-in-seven Brits are expected to experience some form of mental health problem relating to their work.

How confident are people when it comes to talking about mental health at work? A survey of over 1,000 people worryingly reveals that fewer than one-in-five workers (18%) in the UK would be confident about talking to their colleagues about their mental health.

The most and least confident cities when it comes to talking about their mental health at work

Levels of confidence regarding the discussion mental health vary greatly across the nation. Interestingly, Scotland comes out as the most confident when it comes to talking about mental health in the workplace; Edinburgh, in particular, stands out as leagues above all other cities in the UK, with 32% of people feeling confident talking about mental health issues at work.

At the other end of the scale, workers in Leeds are four times less likely (8%) to feel confident talking to colleagues than their counterparts in Edinburgh, followed closely by workers in Sheffield. In London, fewer than one-in-five (19%) workers feel confident about talking to colleagues, and this number rises to over a quarter (26%) in the Greater London region.

As good as the increase in the Greater London region, and the figures from cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow are, these are still well below half and signal that far more needs to be done to increase confidence in talking about mental health and wellbeing.

Still a stigma

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Concerningly, it isn’t just a lack of confidence that the survey uncovered – more than one-in-10 people in the UK say they would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to their colleagues, with those in Cardiff most likely to feel this way (18%). These stats show that not only is work needed to improve confidence but also to remove the stigma of talking about mental health.

“Mental health is a topic that clearly needs to be addressed more,” said Sean Walsh, marketing manager at Protectivity, when commenting on the findings. “While some industries and cities are paving the way in terms of helping people express how they feel, far more is needed to ensure people feel like they can speak up at work.

“Additionally, the statistics from our survey and other studies show many people are affected by their work and work environment. Subsequently, it’s the responsibility of companies to make more of an effort to prevent people from feeling ashamed or embarrassed to speak about their mental health.”

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