Over three quarters of employees say talking about mental health in workplace is ‘uncomfortable’.

No talking.

A white paper from Robert Walters has found 76 per cent of professionals believe people at their place of work would be uncomfortable discussing mental health. Many of the respondents cited anxiety of how they might be perceived by co-workers (82 per cent), concerns over harm to career prospects (78 per cent), embarrassment (76 per cent), and fears they would not be trusted with more responsibility ((69 per cent) as the key barriers. Less than a quarter (23 per cent) ‘strongly agree’ that attitudes towards mental health in the workplace have changed in recent years.

The Robert Walters whitepaper was release ahead of Blue Monday (21 January) – commonly cited as the most ‘depressing’ day of the year where people feel at their ‘lowest.’

Almost 80 per cent of employees claim that management simply ‘making clear that mental health is a priority’ would be a highly effective strategy in removing the barrier to talk. However only a third (36 per cent) of management feel that this approach would be necessary or effective.

According to the research, only half of UK employers have a mental health policy in place, despite the fact that 97 per cent of professionals believe their employer has a responsibility to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff.

“In our own industry we have seen a shift in professionals (88 per cent) wanting to know more about a prospective employers approach towards mental health and wellbeing,” says Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters. However many employees (64 per cent) are finding this information difficult to come by, not helped by the fact that just three per cent of companies mention their mental wellbeing strategies in job adverts.

“As a result, more and more professionals (42 per cent) are resorting to using employer review sites to find out about an organisations mental health policy,” adds Hickey.

Only 17 per cent of employers currently have a partnership in place with an external (mental health or wellbeing) organisation, despite most companies (89 per cent) recognising the benefits it would bring. Added to this, only 18 per cent of general staff – outside of HR – receive mental health training.

Chris Hickey states: “Just six per cent of hiring managers specifically recruit staff with expertise in mental health, and of these less then 10 per cent feel that their skills are being used as effectively as possible.

“In addition to reviewing the recruitment process in order to seek professionals with specific skills and experience of dealing with mental health barriers in the workplace , employers should review their current workforce to identify staff who already possess expertise in the field and help to train them up.”

Download the whitepaper here: The important of mental health strategies in attracting top talent.

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