In July, the story of how a CEO
responded when his employee took a “meantal health day off”
sparked optimism around how the topic of mental health is now
approached in the workplace.
However, a new survey suggests that most people don’t think their
colleagues would react well to any mention of mental disorders.
A study by CIPD course
providers, DPG Plc, found that 85% of UK workers thought that
there was still a stigma attached to mental health issues and
stress in the workplace — even though one in four people are
affected by a mental illness, according to the NHS.
The survey was conducted among 1,000 employed adults in the UK,
more than a quarter (26%) of whom had taken a day off work due to
stress or another mental health problem, and lied about the
58% said they wouldn’t be comfortable telling their manager if
they were diagnosed with a mental health issue, and just 20%
thought their manager was fully equipped to support workers with
The study also showed that women were more likely to tell their
boss they had a different illness if they took a day off for
their mental health.
Clearly, people still feel that they won’t be taken as seriously
as they would be if they were suffering from something outwardly
“These findings highlight a need for change in the workplace, and
an increase in how visible support in the workplace is,” said
Paul Drew, the managing director at DPG. “The problem is that,
whilst the support networks may well exist, it seems they’re
being drastically underused because people fear looking
ineffective, weak, or compromised.”
According to Tom Oxley, the lead consultant and relationship
director at Bamboo Mental Health, mental health stigma is still
alive and well, and this can be due to the attitudes of
individuals, or entire companies.
“Make no mistake; subject knowledge has improved but there’s a
chasm between awareness and action for many employers,” he said in a
statement. “Six out of ten [of those currently suffering]
aren’t saying anything to their manager. That means they’re
working unwell and not getting support. That means the team
performance may be impaired.”
One respondent of the survey said in their experience there is a
“grow up and get over it” attitude about mental health, and
managers should all receive training about the appropriate and
helpful way to react. It all comes down to building trust between
themselves and their staff.
“[They should] encourage a culture where it is ok to talk,”
another respondent said. “Get the buy in from senior managers and
raise mental health awareness by rolling out training