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December 20, 2011

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Employees shy away from mental-health confessions

The issue of mental ill health is still being ignored in most workplaces, with just four in ten employees saying they would feel confident to disclose a mental-health problem to their employer.

This is according to the latest research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which was published yesterday (19 December) to coincide with the launch of a guide to help more employers manage mental health at work.

The survey of more than 2000 people in work reveals that too few employers are taking positive steps to manage their employees’ mental health, despite more than a quarter (26 per cent) of workers having experienced a mental-health problem while in employment.

Just 25 per cent of respondents said their organisation encourages staff to talk openly about mental health, and only 37 per cent believe their employer gives good support to staff with mental-health problems. In contrast, 21 per cent of workers said their employer is poor at managing mental health at work, while 31 per cent do not know what support is available, suggesting that poor communication is part of the problem.

Nearly two thirds of employees with poor mental health attributed their condition to a combination of problems both in and outside of work. Just 15 per cent of respondents with poor mental health said their condition is due to work alone, and 20 per cent claimed their problems are solely down to issues in their personal lives.

Launched by the CIPD in collaboration with mental-health charity Mind, a new guide aims to help employers ensure that the way in which they manage people supports their mental well-being and resilience. The guide is also aimed at employees, encouraging them to talk about any mental-health issues they may be facing at an early stage.

“Managing mental health at work is central to good business performance,” explained CIPD head of public policy Ben Willmott. “To a large degree, this is about how managers interact with staff on a day-to-day basis and the extent to which they build working relationships based on mutual trust and confidence – for example, by managing workloads effectively and providing appropriate feedback, coaching and support where necessary.             

Managers are the eyes and ears of organisations, so they need to be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to enable them to pick up on the early warning signs and intervene where employees are struggling.”

Echoing Willmott’s sentiments, Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer added: “This research shows that there is still a long way to go until workers feel able to discuss their mental health openly in work, enabling them to get the support they need. With one in four people surveyed having experienced mental ill health, this is an issue that will touch almost every workplace in the country.”

The CIPD research, Employee outlook – Focus on managing and supporting mental health at work, can be found at:

The guide, Managing and supporting mental health at work: disclosure tools for managers, can be found at:

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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