A fifth admit they have felt in the past that a member of staff who claimed to be mentally unwell was only saying so because they weren’t good at their job, 21% that they were using it as an excuse to explain away poor work, and a quarter because they wanted time off work.

And 17% had thought that the worker in question wasn’t mentally unwell, just lazy.

This is reflected in the attitudes of workers themselves, according to the study, as a whopping 67% of Brits have suffered mental health issues that affected them at work - but only 35% felt supported by their employers.

In fact, more than half (52%) of Brits believe that managers and bosses are not sympathetic to people who suffer from mental health issues.

And 68% of them believe that, if they told their boss they were suffering from some kind of mental health issue it would have a negative impact on their job.

And bosses agree, with a staggering 84% of senior managers saying that employees risk missing out on promotions if they admit to having mental health issues to their bosses, and 91 percent admitting there was still a lot of stigma around mental health in the workplace.

The study, by TalkOut, found that one in ten (11%) senior managers confess that an employee talking to them about their mental health would make them feel uncomfortable.

And only 42% of senior managers had been trained on how to talk to staff about mental health issues.

Jill Mead, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TalkOut, comments: "The findings from our research are really quite shocking and clearly demonstrate that not enough is being done within the workplace to reduce the long-standing stigma and discrimination around mental health.

"If we’re going to make any progress, mental health needs to stop being seen as a taboo, particularly in professional environments, and there needs to be an understanding and acknowledgement that people with mental health conditions can often thrive at work with the right support.

“HR managers and business leaders must take responsibility of ensuring their organisation has a mentally healthy environment where people can talk about mental health in the same way they talk about physical health without fear of consequences.”

The study, of 2,000 British workers and 200 senior managers, found that almost two thirds (63%) of senior managers said they did not have enough resources to support employees with mental health issues. And 53% said they did not have procedures in place to help staff who were suffering from mental ill health.

In fact, 82% of senior managers admitted that, in the past, their industry had failed workers with mental health issues, and only three in 10 (31%) said that mental health was currently taken seriously in their companies.

Yet 96% said they thought their staff’s mental health was as important as their physical health, and 94% believe a mentally healthy workforce is a more productive one.

Kedge Martin, CEO of RutBusters, has outlined four Ts to improve mental wellbeing:


The Four Ts of mental health
TALK – to someone

Having someone to talk to is a really important way to prevent severe problems building up. Often people worry about confiding their problems and concerns with those close to them; they don’t want to burden their friends and family and there is also the stigma of being vulnerable.

So, many people march on through life with an ‘I’m ok’ mask on, only for it to fall off when they collapse. And also, those closest to us often have their own agenda and historical perspective/view – ‘I warned you she was hopeless’; ‘I told you not to take that job’. Lou Hotz (a famous American football coach, author and sports commentator) once said “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”

Confiding in a trained coach or counsellor, someone wholly independent, who listens without judgement but who also challenges your perspective in a supportive way, is invaluable. There are a range of professionals to suit all budgets – and very often just one session where you can disgorge all that is bubbling up and causing stress, can be extraordinarily beneficial – giving clarity and perspective – before one buckles through overwhelm.
TIME – for self

In addition to talking to someone unbiased, it is important to carve out some space for your self – this may be just 15 minutes going for a walk ideally outside in nature, sitting quietly and reading a book. Being disciplined and stopping from our busyness is extremely difficult but once practiced, it is remarkable restorative.
TECHNOLOGY detox

Disconnecting from technology is critical – digital detox. Smartphones, computers and social media (the ‘always on’ culture) has become the tail that wags the dog – so we are always responding to other people’s actions/prompts/comments/ interruptions/emails. We need to re-establish control over and ownership of our own time – the only thing that we cannot replenish, once it’s gone it’s gone.
THANKS – for what we have

Recognising what is right with our lives is also key – gratitude for all the things we take for granted. The best way to be grateful is to reflect upon what we would miss if we no longer had it – our health, our friends, family (even the annoying members!) etc and be grateful for the many things we take for granted. Focusing on what is good in life is a really good way to nudge negative thoughts away.