Mental health in the workplace must be dealt with more proactively by employers

Employers must be more proactive in how they manage staff with mental health problems who remain in the workplace, the CIPD has said.

A survey of more than 2,000 employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed more than one-quarter of UK workers described their mental health as moderate or poor, and 98% of those people continued to work regularly.

More than 90% of those who suffered from poor mental health said the condition affected their performance at work, while more than three-quarters said they found it difficult to concentrate at work.

Four in 10 employees felt poor mental health interfered with their ability to make decisions, and 36% believed it meant they were more likely to get into conflicts with colleagues.

The survey also revealed only just over one-third of respondents felt their company supported people with mental health problems.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “The survey findings provide compelling evidence for why employers need to become more proactive in how they manage mental health at work.

“Common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are one of the main causes of time lost to ill health. However, in many ways it is the time people suffering from mental health problems spend at work employers should focus more efforts on managing better.

“The starting point for addressing poor mental health at work is good people management by front-line managers and supervisors. Managers who communicate well and consult, coach and develop their staff are more likely to support positive mental health and resilience in the people they manage.”

He added it was essential that managers were able to spot early signs of mental health problems and could then refer colleagues to occupational health services or advise them to see a GP.

The survey also found younger workers were more likely to suffer poor mental health, with 12% of 18- to 24-year-olds describing their mental as poor or very poor – double the figure for all ages.

In total, 12% of those with poor mental health said this was due to problems at work.

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