The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) says that mental health remains a no-go zone in many workplaces, with four in five British workers reporting they won’t discuss mental health problems with their boss because they fear being stigmatised and judged incapable. Equally, line managers say they are reluctant to bring up the subject with their staff because they are concerned they will say or do the wrong thing.

These findings were recently highlighted by IOSH ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, currently running to 19 May 2019, based on a recent survey published by IOSH.

Some 400 employees from a variety of businesses across Britain were asked questions aimed at getting a clearer picture of what is being done to support workers with mental health problems.

Key findings from the survey were:

  • 80% won’t discuss mental health with their line manager

  • 25% of employees would be more comfortable discussing mental health with a colleague

  • 22% of line managers rarely discuss mental health with their direct reports, with a further 11% never doing so.

One employee said: “I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression but never admitted to it at work for fear of being stigmatised.”

The results also revealed that 62% of line managers don’t get enough help from their organisation to support the mental wellbeing of their staff, with only 31% of respondents saying they have been sufficiently trained to recognise the signs of poor mental health.

Duncan Spencer, Head of Advice and Practice at IOSH, said, “These survey results are deeply worrying. They demonstrate that while much work has been done to remove the stigma of mental health, it is still a taboo in many workplaces.

“Businesses need to work hard to break down these taboos, by creating more open lines of communication.”

Last reviewed 14 May 2019