Most workers won’t discuss issues with manager due to ‘taboo’

'Mental health is still a taboo in many workplaces'

Olivia Petter
Monday 13 May 2019 11:43 BST

The majority of British workers won't discuss mental health issues with their manager due to fears of being stigmatised, a new survey has found.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which begins on Monday 13 May, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) surveyed 400 employees from a range of businesses in the UK to understand what is being done to support workers with mental health problems.

The researchers found that despite recent efforts to dismantle taboos surrounding mental health, 80 per cent of employees won’t discuss problem with their line manager, while 25 per cent said they’d be more comfortable having such conversations with a colleague.

The results also show that line managers feel they don’t get enough help from their organisation to support the mental health of their staff, with just 31 per cent of those surveyed saying they felt sufficiently trained to recognise symptoms of poor mental wellbeing.

One employee surveyed: “I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression but never admitted to it at work for fear of being stigmatised.”

Duncan Spencer, head of advice and practice at IOSH, has described the results as “deeply worrying”.

“They demonstrate that while much work has been done to remove the stigma of mental health, is still a taboo in many workplaces,” he said.

“Businesses need to work hard to break down these taboos, by creating more open lines of communication. Line managers are vital in creating workplaces that are positive for people’s mental health and wellbeing, but they need to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to do this.

“We encourage businesses to create a prevention-first approach to managing mental health and wellbeing.”

Mental Health Awareness Week runs until 19 May. The theme this year is body image: how we think and feel about our bodies. Read more here.

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