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article imageThe under-reported issue: Mental health issues at work

By Tim Sandle     Sep 12, 2018 in Health
London - Levels of mental health issues in the workplace are rising in many countries. A new survey conducted by the charity Mind has assessed that half of all employees experience a mental health issue during their working life.
The new survey has been conducted on 44,000 people in the U.K., and the findings show common ground between workers in other countries. The headline from the survey is that of those surveyed, around half reported they had experienced mental health issues connected with work.
A toll on the workforce
Of those who stated they had experienced a mental health concern, just half of this proportion stated they had raised the matter with their employer. The reasons provided for why a person elected not to raise an issue included being afraid, being embarrassed, feeling shame, or worrying about the impact on future promotion or even in terms of losing their job.
Data provided by Mind suggest that, in the U.K., some 300,000 people leave a job each year due to a mental health problem. This can be through voluntary means or due to being pressured out of the role.
The types of mental health issues raised included stress, anxiety or low moods. Triggers for these tended to be poor work relationships, especially between employees and their immediate managers, and excessive workloads.
Management issue
A study by the Institute of Directors, where 700 managers were polled, suggested that very few managers receive mental health awareness training and are subsequently ill-equipped to assist employees.
As an example, Natalie Hunt, who works just outside Manchester, told the BBC that she had experienced workplace stress while working in a department store: “I'd had anxiety and depression as a teenager and the full-time job made me really anxious. I began to get shy and withdrawn, going more and more into myself, and I was worried about having a panic attack at work.”
The charity Mind is calling for reforms at the workplace so that a better support network can be provided to employees. Paul Farmer, of Mind, said: “Now is the time for a step change in how we think about mental health at work. All employers need to make it a focus and support their staff.”
The charity has worked with The Royal Foundation, Heads Together and some eleven other charities to develop an online platform for employers and employees to access information and advice to help to address work-related mental health issues.
The new platform was unveiled by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, on September 11, 2018. A spokesman for The Duke of Cambridge expressed the Prince's support for the scheme: "Too often, they have seen that people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. They want to help change the national conversation."
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