Mental Health Awareness Week: 28% of millennials ‘work through stress’

Millennials – those aged between 18 and 38 – feel under the most pressure at work, with more than a quarter (28%) stating that working through stress was expected in their workplace, according to mental health organisations. 

A poll of more than 4,000 people, the results of which have been released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, revealed a quarter of millennials said they put their health at risk to do their job, compared with 18% of baby boomers – those aged between 53 and 71.

Across both generations, just 14% of workers felt comfortable speaking to their manager about their stress levels.

The survey, commissioned by Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health First Aid England, also found 34% of millennials admitted they had been less productive at work due to stress, versus only 19% of baby boomers.

“Millennials are more likely to have insecure contracts, low rates of pay and high entry-level workloads,” claimed Richard Grange, spokesperson for the Mental Health Foundation. “The pressures they face in today’s employment market are very different to past generations.”

Jaan Madan, workplace lead at Mental Health First Aid England, said more needed to be done to translate awareness of employee mental health issues into action.

“Coping with stress in the workplace starts with being able to have a conversation with your manager, and in a mentally healthy organisation everyone should feel comfortable talking about stress,” added Madan.

Separately, Business in the Community (BITC) has been urging employees to share their experiences of mental health at work by responding to its Mental Health at Work Survey 2018, which launches today (14 May).

BITC hopes that the survey, which is being conducted in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits, will help tackle the stigma associated with discussing mental health issues at work, increase acceptance and understanding, and improve support for those with a mental health condition.

Despite 2017’s survey finding that 60% of employees had experienced a mental health issue because of their work, there was still a disconnect between how well senior management believed their organisation was doing to support those with conditions and what was happening in practice, according to BITC wellbeing director Louise Aston.

“That’s why we need a diverse range of people to take part in the Mental Health at Work 2018 survey to give us the best picture of what is happening in the UK, because thinking about mental health from different perspectives will help us to truly understand it,” she said.

The first annual survey was in 2016, but Aston said there had been slow progress since then. Last year’s study discovered that while 84% of managers accepted that the wellbeing of their staff was their responsibility, only 24% had received mental health training.

Where employees had informed their manager about a mental health issue, 15% of cases resulted in the employee facing disciplinary procedures, demotion or dismissal.

The 2018 survey will run until 27 July and the findings will be published ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

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