Employees feel unable to discuss stress, anxiety and depression with their managers

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Despite recent years of progress in the break-down of the taboo surrounding the discussion of mental health, it seems that employees still feel uncomfortable discussing issues in the workplace.

A recent survey by Legal & General has revealed that a minority of employees who have experienced depression or unacceptably high levels of pressure feel able to talk to their manager about it – with 39% feeling they could talk to a spouse or partner about their depression, but only 4% feeling comfortable approaching their manager with the conversation. Similarly, only 5% felt they could speak to their superior about anxiety issues.

Even the conversation about pressure levels remains difficult in the workplace: only one in ten (10%) employees said they feel able to talk to a manager about experiencing unacceptably high levels of pressure.

The huge disconnect between employees’ feelings on mental health issues and companies’ beliefs about their practices is evident: 78% of employers think that their staff feel comfortable talking about mental health issues with them.

Worryingly, a third (32%) of those employees who have experienced depression and a fifth (21%) of those who have experienced unacceptable levels of pressure felt that they could not speak to anyone at all about their issues – including family and friends.

MartinuNoone, managing director, Legal & General Workplace Health and Protection, comments on the research: “There is much more work to do to change the perception of mental health and the stigma attached to it. It seems that the workplace has, in the main, become a place for ‘suffering in silence’. 

“Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’ are vital in raising awareness of this.  Since joining the campaign in 2013 Legal & General has regularly enhanced the mental health support and services available to staff.  The latest development is a team of Mental Health First Aiders trained to recognise symptoms in others and be able to support them.

“With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem each year, it’s time for employers to work on their approach and start creating workplaces that are mentally healthy.”