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Business group urges UK employers to ‘ramp up’ support for worker mental health

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London — Although a larger percentage of workers in the United Kingdom say their managers are genuinely concerned for their well-being, “the prevalence and impact of mental health issues are severe, and employers need to urgently ramp up the breadth and quality of support they’re providing,” concludes a recent report from nonprofit group Business in the Community.

The report, published Oct. 8, is the third from the group, which describes itself as a “business-led membership organization made up of progressive businesses of all sizes who understand that the prosperity of business and society are mutually dependent.”

For the report, researchers surveyed 4,626 full- and part-time employees online in the United Kingdom. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that their line manager is interested in their welfare, up from 55 percent in a previous report published in 2016. Progress was seen in other areas, including recognition in the signs of poor mental health (71 percent, up from 64 percent in 2016) and an acknowledgement from managers that employee well-being is at least part of their responsibility (85 percent, up from 76 percent in 2016).


However, survey results also showed that 61 percent of employees have experienced a mental health issue either because of their work or with work as a contributing factor. Eleven percent of respondents who disclosed a mental health issue said they were disciplined, demoted or fired. Only 16 percent said they felt comfortable disclosing a mental health issue to their manager.

The report includes several calls to action for employers:

  • Break the culture of silence that surrounds mental health.
  • Invest in basic mental health literacy for employees and first aid training in mental health to support managerial competency.
  • Implement practical actions from the mental health toolkit.

“All the important indicators are moving in the right direction,” Tony Wood, partner and U.K. managing director for Mercer Marsh Benefits, said in the report. “More people feel able to talk about their mental health at work. More managers are willing and able to have difficult conversations about mental health. More organizations are ready to make the adjustments needed to help people with mental health issues, just as they would with physical health issues.

“Despite this good news, we are all acutely aware of the scale of the challenge before us. Much remains to be done. Too many people still feel unable to share their concerns with colleagues or their line manager. Many employees are frustrated by their organization’s reluctance to put in place the support they feel will help them manage their condition.”

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