Significant numbers of staff experience ‘distressing’ mental health episodes whilst at work


Nearly fifty per cent of employees with mental health conditions have admitted coming to work whilst feeling suicidal, new research by Unum and the Mental Health Foundation has revealed.


The research which polled 2,000 people across the UK including employees with mental health conditions and line managers, also found over two-thirds of employees with existing mental health conditions have suffered distressing episodes at work, whilst two in five people with no previous issues admitted they have experienced similar emotions in the workplace.


In addition, one in twenty managers with no history of mental health disorders also said they’d experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings whilst at work.


Liz Walker, HR Director at Unum UK called on employers to support their staff ‘all year round’, not just during awareness days like Blue Monday, the third Monday in January thought to be the most depressing day of the year.


“Many employees don’t feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace. But line management plays a critical role in this by educating, supporting and communicating the support available for those who may be in need. Employers should support mental health all year round, and communicate to their staff the care available via their employee benefits packages,” she said.


Jenny Edwards, CBE, CEO Mental Health Foundation added: “let’s remember that any day might be a blue day for our staff.  Distress at work is not limited to those with diagnosed mental health problems. This is why businesses need to take a whole company approach to addressing mental health within the workplace.”


Tim Barnes, Business Development Director at Healthcare RM commented: “The research highlights that many employers can and should do more to take a proactive stance by assessing the psychological risks within the workplace - both occupational and personal – as part of a compliance programme for the identification and control of workplace risks. And where mental health issues are identified, employers should consider providing evidence-based psychological support based on the needs of the employee.”

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