A nationwide study has found Birmingham bosses to be the least supportive in the UK towards workplace mental health, with 60 percent of workers saying they don’t think their employers are sympathetic to those struggling with mental health issues.
The study was conducted by TalkOut this month, an organisation created to remove the stigma surrounding mental health within the workplace ahead of World Mental Health Day. They found that overall, a staggering 68 percent of Birmingham workers say they have suffered mental health issues that affected them at work – but only 33 percent of those felt supported by their employers.
75 percent of Birmingham workers believe that if they told their boss they were struggling from some kind of mental health issue, it would have a negative impact on their job.
In fact, 62 percent of Birmingham employees have pretended to have had a physical ailment to take sick leave, when in reality they were suffering, mentally.
36 percent of workers did this because they thought it was a sign of weakness to say they were mentally unwell, while just over a third worried about people gossiping about them.
The study also found that – when workers do open up about their mental health problems – the consequences can sometimes be dire. When workers did make the decision to open up about their mental health issues, 23 percent felt side-lined, 16 percent said people stopped talking to them, and a fifth (20 percent) walked out of work or quit their job.
Nearly half (49 percent) of the Birmingham workers surveyed said they’d seen someone pushed out of their job because of their mental health issues.
So, it’s no shock that 72 percent of Brummies would feel deeply uncomfortable broaching the issue with their employer.
And an overwhelming 96 percent of respondents believe management should be trained in dealing with mental health issues.
Jill Mead, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TalkOut, comments:
“The findings from our research are a real cause for concern and clearly demonstrate that not enough is being done to reduce the long-standing stigma and discrimination around mental health within the workplace.
“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.”
In fact, work itself can play a factor in poor mental health, with 83 percent of Birmingham workers saying that they have felt anxious or depressed because of their job.
39 percent put this down to having a heavy workload, 33 percent said it was because of an unhealthy atmosphere, and 31 percent put it down to lack of staff.
Over a quarter (28 percent) put it down to poor management, while 20 percent felt bullied by their boss or a colleague.