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Employees fear admitting mental health problems will damage careers


The stigma of mental illness is alive and well as new research reveals that 77 per cent of employees fear that admitting to mental ill-health will damage their careers.

UnumProvident’s research asked employees whether they believed that admitting they suffer from stress, depression and anxiety would damage their careers.

Older workers seemed particularly concerned, with 80 per cent of 45-54 year olds believing that admitting mental ill-health to their employer would impact on their career negatively.

On a regional basis, the north-west had the highest number of employees (83 per cent) who believed that discussing mental health problems with an employer would ultimately damage their job prospects. Sixty nine per cent believed that admitting mental health problems would jeopardise their employability. And well over half believed it would impact on their future references from their existing employer and would impact on future pay and benefit increases.

Commenting on the results, Joanne Hindle, corporate services director of UnumProvident, said: “Company directors badly underestimate the likely incidence of mental ill-health amongst employees and colleagues and the implications for their business. Around three in every 10 employees – 28-35 per cent – will experience stress, depression or some other form of mental ill health in any year.

“A recent survey by the Shaw Trust found that 63 per cent of employers believed that their organisation’s policy on mental health was effective in helping their staff stay in work.

“However, if employees are not reporting mental health problems for fear of repercussions on their career, employers are less likely to be able to provide effective support.

“The taboo of mental ill-health needs to be broken so employees and their employers can pinpoint problems at the outset.

“Early intervention is key to rehabilitation in mental as well as physical ill-health and will maximise the chances of employees maintaining their careers and staying in work.”

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