Jessica Fino 18 Dec 2017 03:24pm

Mental health still a taboo subject in the workplace

UK workers would rather talk about their financial or relationship problems than about their mental health

According to research by the charity Time to Change, discussing mental health remains one of the last taboos in the workplace, with 30% of workers more likely to feel comfortable discussing a relationship break-up, money problems (26%), dating advice (20%), religion (19%) or sex (18%).

Only 13% of the 2,000 people surveyed said they were comfortable discussing their mental health at work, despite one in four people experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their career.

However, more than half of the respondents said they would support a colleague if they noticed they were struggling with their mental health, even though 39% said they wouldn’t know how to.

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said, “Christmas is branded the most wonderful time of the year but it can be challenging and stressful for those of us struggling with mental health problems or with life stresses. The pressure to spend money, socialise and ‘have fun’ can leave people feeling more isolated than ever, especially if we feel there’s no-one to turn to.

“So let’s add talking about mental health into the usual mix of workplace conversations about relationships, money and even sex - it could make all the difference to those of us who could be struggling this Christmas.”

It emerged this year that failure to deal properly with workplace mental health may be costing the UK economy as much as £99bn a year, through a combination of lost productivity, lower tax receipts and extra benefits payments.

Prime minister Theresa May commissioned a report in January titled, Thriving at work: The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers. It found that 300,000 people in the UK lose their jobs every year due to poor mental health and estimated that 15% of the workforce has symptoms of an existing mental health condition.

Additionally, research by mental health charity Mind in August found that one in three (32%) men attribute poor mental health to work, compared to one in five women, but 43% of women have taken time off for mental health reasons in their career, compared to 29% of men.