Nearly 1 in 2 (47%) of employees would be uncomfortable discussing any mental health issues with their employer due to fears that doing so could jeopardise their career, according to a new survey from payroll, HR and learning experts, MHR. The survey, which asked UK workers the same series of questions in 2020 and 2021, compared the experiences of 6,386 employees regarding work and their mental health.

Concerningly, further findings show that the number of employees taking days off work due to mental health issues has risen by 16% in the last year. In 2020, 31% of employees reported having had time off work due to mental health concerns, but this year the figure rose to 35%.

These results come despite a 26% increase in organisations offering mental health first aid training, suggesting that although training investments are progressing, they are not having the desired impact as employees remain uncomfortable speaking up about their mental health and find themselves taking more days off to care for it.

“Whilst it is positive to see that more employers are providing training, it is concerning to see that the stigma around mental health is still very much present in work environments. Individuals that recognise they need time off to look after their wellbeing, should not feel threatened to admit the truth to their employer. These findings should urge business leaders to re-evaluate their approaches to mental health. Creating a safe space for conversations about mental health is about more than just companywide training, it comes down to the culture of an organisation” said Jeanette Wheeler, HR Director, MHR.

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By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.