The majority of UK employees struggle to identify symptoms of common mental health conditions, resulting in treatment delays for millions of workers.
The study from Bupa examined employees’ understanding of key psychological and behavioural symptoms of six of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the UK, as well as identifying widely-held misconceptions.
Industry figures show that 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK. The research reveals that inaccurate assumptions have caused almost seven million3 to delay seeking support for a mental health problem. Early diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions can improve recovery rates which is why medical experts at Bupa want to raise awareness of the accurate symptoms of mental health conditions.
On the other hand, nine out of 10 (91 per cent) are able to identify the key symptoms of depression and half (49 per cent) are able to recognise the most common signs of anxiety such as restlessness, a sense of dread or insomnia – a positive for the three million people who experience anxiety in the UK.5
The study also highlights how the people we work with impact our understanding of mental health, with a quarter (24 per cent) of employees being influenced by their colleagues and their organisation’s mental health policy (22 per cent).
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, says: “Mental health is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today, so it’s encouraging to see that general awareness of these issues is improving. However it’s clear that many people still would not recognise the symptoms of specific conditions in their colleagues. A better understanding of mental health conditions would help people to identify whether they or a colleague needs support more quickly, which can significantly improve outcomes.”
The findings show that general awareness of mental health issues have improved amongst nearly three quarters of workers (72 per cent) over the last five years – however, greater understanding of the specific signs and symptoms is needed as six in 10 (59 per cent) do not know the main traits of specific conditions, and would not recognise mental ill-health in a colleague.
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, continues: “If you or a colleague is struggling with their mental health it’s important to seek medical help. Our Business Mental Health Advantage helps businesses to support colleagues with long-term mental health issues, with extended cover for mental health conditions and support for employees, and I would encourage anyone with questions around mental ill-health to seek advice.”