Scottish workers keep quiet about absences due to mental health

A third (34%) of Scottish employees who have taken time off work because of a mental health problem say they feel forced to hide their reason for absence, according to research.

The survey, carried out for the ‘See Me’ campaign which combats discrimination against mental health problems, found employees feared the negative reaction they might face from managers or colleagues.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents who took time off because of mental health problems said when they returned to work they were treated differently from when they were off with a physical illness.

Nearly half (43%) of people who had experienced mental ill-health problems while at work said they felt encouraged to leave and not return by the business.

Linda Dunion, director of the campaign, said misconceptions of mental health problems often mean that those who experience mental ill-health do not enjoy equal rights in the workplace.

“Having a job helps to give people confidence and self-esteem, which are key to our emotional well-being and good mental health,” she said. “It’s important to give people with mental ill-heath the same respect and support as we would if someone had a physical illness.”

The campaign is funded by the Scottish Executive as part of its National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Well-being.

It is run by an alliance of five Scottish mental health organisations: Highland Users Group (HUG); National Schizophrenia Fellowship (Scotland); Penumbra; the Royal College of Psychiatrists (Scottish Division) and the Scottish Association for Mental Health. 

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