UK employers under-estimate the extent to which their workers and managers are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and other forms of mental ill health, a disability charity has warned.
This is costing business more than 9bn a year in lost working time, the Shaw Trust has said.
The government has also been urged to get tough with employers that discriminate against people with mental health problems.
The Shaw Trust’s research found widespread discrimination and prejudice in the workplace against employees who had taken time off work because of a mental health condition.
Most UK businesses did not have effective policies or provisions to manage their employee mental health, and there was a lack of understanding and a stigma attached to mental health problems, it found.
Most company directors under-estimated the likely incidence of mental ill health among employees and colleagues, or the implications of this for their business.
One in three directors could not mention any specific condition, such as stress, depression or anxiety, when asked what disorders they thought of in connection with mental health in the workplace.
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Staff concerned about work-related stress
More than a fifth of British employees are concerned about work-related stress, yet many employers continue to do little or nothing about it, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.
The poll of about 10,000 employees found that 40% thought that the risk of stress in the workplace could be realistically reduced, yet less than a third said their employers had taken preventative action to reduce stress levels in the workplace.
The survey also asked staff what other risks they thought could realistically be reduced, with slips and trips – which cost employers an estimated 512m a year – topping the list.
Employees were also damning about the health and safety training they received.
Nearly three-quarters said they received training in manual handling, but only half said they got training on working around moving vehicles.
This, said the HSE, was significant because 35 workers were killed last year after being struck by a moving vehicle.
Lifting or carrying heavy loads and dust or fume exposure were also a concern for an estimated 9% of the working population.