Millions going into work 'mentally unwell'

Millions going into work 'mentally unwell'

Almost one fifth of employees claim that they have gone into work when feeling mentally unwell – equating to around 5.8 million workers.

New research from Canada Life Group Insurance has found that a worrying stigma around mental health is still prevalent amongst the UK workforce. 19% of those asked said they’d be more likely to go into work if they felt mentally unwell than they would if feeling physically unwell, whilst 20% admitted that they would take time off if they were suffering from a stress-related illness.

Speaking on the issue, Paul AvisMarketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance, says: “Old stigmas still persist when it comes to mental health in the workplace. People suffering from mental health issues should be focusing on getting better rather than struggling into the office. You would not come into work if you were too physically unwell to do so, would you?

“Too many employees do come in when unwell as they are worried about how having a mental illness will affect their job prospects or relationship with their colleagues. Employers must do more to show they are serious about supporting employees with mental health and stress-related issues. It is important to communicate not only that it’s okay for them to take time off to get better, but also that there won’t be any negative impact on their career for doing so.”

Workers admitted that they would be worried what their boss would think if they took time off to work on their mental health. 20% of employees said that they are embarrassed to request leave, with a further 13% anxious over how it would affect their future job prospects.

The research looked into how best to beat this problem, with 37% of workers saying that flexible working would help alleviate the stigma. 34% of employees say promoting a more positive attitude to health and wellbeing would be beneficial, and a quarter identified less pressure to be ‘always on’ and working.

Avis also spoke to HR Grapevine about the recent DWP Green Paper, which set out what employers should be doing to encourage more disabled employees into the workplace. To read the full feature in our latest issue of HR Grapevine magazine, follow the link

Have you enjoyed this piece?

Subscribe now to myGrapevine+ and get access to exclusive new content, and the full content archive.

Comments (3)

  • Sir
    Tue, 12 Sep 2017 1:34pm BST
    Ref Keep Calm & Carry On, I do so wish that HR Grapevine had a 'like' button.
  • Sir
    Thu, 7 Sep 2017 2:00pm BST
    It's a question of degree isn't it ?
    I often go to work when I have a cold etc as it doesn't stop me working (albeit slightly less effectively).
    The definition of being 'mentally unwell' would benefit from some kind of clarity - if I were slightly mentally unwell would it also be reasonable to go to work as it might not stop me working (albeit slightly less effectively).
    Might there also be the possibility that the sometimes therapeutic effect of work is of benefit ?
    There seems to be a growing hysteria around mental health which glosses over these matters, and assumes that any mental ill health is extreme and should legitimately preclude work.
  • Keep Calm & Carry On
    Keep Calm & Carry On
    Thu, 7 Sep 2017 1:55pm BST
    Perhaps the root cause of us all now being mentally ill is having to work for a living.
    Maybe the root cause analysis solution is for everyone to quit their job and for a soon to be bankrupt state to support us the the lifestyle some people imagine they deserve by the fact they were born.
    Or maybe we have forgotten about the British "Stiff Upper Lip, chest out, shoulders back" and should just get on with it.
    Or get rid of all those whiney pigeon holing do good meddlers who constantly look to invent the next "social disease"

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.