HR seems unaware of extent of mental ill health

HR departments and managers remain worryingly complacent about the extent of mental ill health within the workplace, according to a survey.

Research by charity the Shaw Trust found a lack of awareness among HR professionals about both its incidence and how to address such issues.

Whereas official statistics estimate that one in six people will suffer from some sort of mental ill health condition at any one time, HR directors polled by the trust estimated the number of employees to be suffering from mental ill health issues to be 5% or fewer in an entire lifetime.

The research also found that just a fifth of businesses had a policy on how to deal with mental ill health in the workplace, and only 16% of these had one they felt was well understood within their organisation.

Seven out of 10 firms said they did not know enough about the law regarding mental health in the workplace, while six out of 10 senior managers used no internal or external support when dealing with mental ill health.

Its research has come as the Society of Occupational Medicine’s journal Occupational Medicine has concluded that resuming work can actually aid recovery and help depressed employees.

The study followed more than 500 people unable to work with depression from a variety of industries over the course of a year.

A return to employment significantly promoted recovery, with the approach and flexibility of their employers proving to be the most important.

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