One in five British workers skeptical of colleagues with mental health issues such as stress

One in five British workers admit to being skeptical about colleagues who take time off work for mental health issues, such as depression, stress or anxiety, new research has revealed.

Mental healthWillis PMI Group, part of Willis Towers Watson, commissioned a study 1,388 finding that 14% still do not believe that stress is a genuine mental health condition.

However, 29% of those questioned claim to have suffered from mental health problems themselves.

Mike Blake, Director at Willis PMI Group, said: “These results highlight the extent of the challenge employers face in educating their staff about the serious nature of mental health issues.”

“Stress and mental ill health are both among the top four causes of long-term absence for manual and non-manual workers.1 Therefore, it is crucial businesses overcome the traditional stigma attached to these conditions in order to create a more open, empathetic culture. Doing this will allow them to better identify sufferers, provide effective treatment and make the return to work process smoother and less daunting for the employee.”

Furthermore, the study found that 48% of UK employees have worked with a colleague who has suffered mental health issues.

21% believe that colleagues who have previously suffered from mental health issues are less able to fulfill their job role properly.

Blake added: “From a risk perspective, there is potential for a rise in Employers’ Liability claims related to stress and mental health. Therefore companies can leave themselves badly exposed if they fail to provide sufferers with a clear pathway for reintegration into the workforce.

“There are clear implications for productivity and sickness absence too, but the effects can be mitigated by implementing a comprehensive framework for tackling mental health issues that includes proper data capture, company culture, benefits and wellbeing schemes.”

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