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Mental health taboo affecting millions of careers

by LLB Editor
8th Oct 19 7:37 am

Results of a new international study into workplace mental health reveal the extent to which workplace stigma around the topic is impacting both medical outcomes and employers’ bottom lines. The research exposes the true scale of mental health problems in the workplace, the magnitude of under reporting of mental health conditions, and what might be preventing people from seeking the support they need.

The study of 3,894 employees across four major international markets including the US, Canada, Australia and the UK was conducted by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by global virtual care experts Teladoc Health.

Mental health stigma is preventing employees from seeking support at work

The research shows that 82% of employees who have had a mental health diagnosis have kept their difficulties hidden from workplace management, mainly because they feared a negative impact on their career (38%). When offered a range of reasons for not telling their employers, 22% worried that others’ professional opinion of them would be tarnished, with 21% saying they felt embarrassed, and 17% believing their capability at work would be questioned. Most concerningly, one in ten (10%) believed that confiding in someone at work about their poor mental health could lead to them losing their job.

Dr John Oldham, Professor of Psychiatry at Menninger Clinic, said:

“While society is generally promoting the conversation about mental health, the data show that employees don’t want to and don’t know how to talk about it at work. Not surprisingly, stigma is the biggest obstacle in obtaining help for mental health problems.”

“The belief is pervasive and persistent that raising your hand for help with problems like depression, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues will only be career limiting,” added Dr. Oldham.

Employees call for leaders to take action on stigma and provide meaningful support

Employees say that greater education in the workplace about mental health is needed, along with greater access to the right support. More than four in ten (43%) of employees agree not enough is being done to raise awareness about mental health in their workplace.  Over half (55%) agree more should be done in their workplace to improve mental health, with more than a third (38%) saying they would be more productive at work if there was better mental health support.

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