A nationwide study has found that four out of ten (42 percent) of Plymouth workers think that being honest about mental health issues in the workplace is a sign of weakness.
The study, conducted in October by TalkOut – an organisation created to remove the stigma surrounding mental health within the workplace – found that, in total, over two thirds (67 percent) of Plymouth workers have suffered with a mental health issue that has impacted their ability to work.
Of these however, 59 percent say they didn’t feel supported by their senior team or boss, and over two thirds (68 percent) believe that if they told their boss they were struggling with a mental health issue, it would have a negative impact on their job.
The study found that when workers do open up about their mental health problems – the consequences can sometimes be dire. When Plymouth workers did speak out about their mental health concerns, 22 percent said it caused arguments with colleagues, 19 percent felt side-lined, and 15 percent said that people stopped talking to them altogether.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that 62 percent of Plymouth workers have pretended to have had a physical ailment to take sick leave, when in reality they were struggling mentally.
When asked why they did this – as well as the 42 percent who said they felt it was a sign of weakness – 28 percent were worried about how it would reflect on them within the organisation, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) knew their boss wouldn’t be sympathetic.
Shockingly, 42 percent of Plymouth workers said they had witnessed a colleague, who suffered with mental health issues, being demoted or pushed out of their job.
And an overwhelming 89 percent of respondents believe management should be trained in dealing with mental health issues.
Jill Mead, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TalkOut, comments: "The findings from our research are a real cause for concern and clearly demonstrate that not enough is being done to reduce the long-standing stigma and discrimination around mental health within the workplace.
"If we’re going to make any progress, mental health needs to stop being seen as a taboo, particularly in professional environments, and there needs to be an understanding and acknowledgement that people with mental health conditions can often thrive at work with the right support.”
In fact, work itself can play a factor in poor mental health, with over three quarters (78 percent) of Plymouth workers saying that they have felt anxious or depressed because of their job.
Over half (51 percent) put this down to too much workload, 37 percent blamed a negative working atmosphere, 30 percent blamed poor management, and 30 percent said it was because they were being bullied by a colleague or manager.