Mental Health Awareness Week: Graduates fear telling employers about issues

Seven out of 10 graduates would avoid informing potential or new employers if they suffered from a mental health issue to avoid any negative impact on their career prospects, a survey has found.

According student and graduate careers app Debut, only 15% graduates described the mental health support provided by their employer as “good”, while a third of graduates said their employer’s welfare provision was “poor”.

Of the 70% who said they would be too scared to admit they had a mental health issue, 83% suggested they would be more inclined to tell their employer if they offered an “off the record” – or fully anonymous – support service, separated from their employment record. More than two-thirds (67%) said their employer did not currently have this in place.

When asked what form of off the record support they would use, 61% said they would prefer a face-to-face meeting. Instant online chat, through mediums such as WhatsApp, was favoured by 19% of graduates, and 10% said they would prefer speaking to somebody over email.

The survey of 1,000 21-25 year old graduates also found that 88% believed there was still a stigma attached to telling others about their mental health condition.

Four in 10 graduates claimed they had left university with mental health issues and 65% said they did not think their university did enough to support students with conditions.

Debut founder and CEP Charlie Taylor said supporting graduates as they transitioned from university to work should be a major consideration for employers.

“If graduate recruitment specialists want to attract – and more importantly keep – the best talent as they emerge from education, they need to know what issues students and graduates are facing, and how best to support them.

“Graduate programmes can be fiercely competitive, which can exacerbate mental health issues; employers need to take note of the information revealed by our latest survey and ensure they are providing anonymous, ‘off the record’ support for this future workforce,” he said.

A separate study by Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health First Aid England found that 28% of millennials felt working through stress was expected in their workplace. A quarter claimed they put their health at risk to do their job.

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