82% of workers aren’t confident talking about mental health

It’s good to talk – are you one of the 18%? Sean Walsh gives us the stats.

Reading time: 3m 30s.

Over the last few years, the conversations around mental health have become more loud and frequent across society. From social media content to news stories, the concern for the rise of mental health issues is large and it’s never been as important to be able to open up and talk about our mental health. 

Mental health issues affect one in four people in the UK each year. Issues relating to mental health can emerge from a variety of factors, with one key cause deriving from the workplace, as one in seven Brits are expected to experience some form of mental health problem relating to their work.  

Because of the stigma that has been attached to mental health issues over time, it has often been challenging for people to take some much needed time off or get the support necessary for self-care. 

So how confident are people when it comes to talking about mental health at work? A survey of over 1,000 people living in the UK found that 82% of workers wouldn’t be confident talking to their colleagues about mental health. So which cities and industries need to work on opening up at work most?

The discussing around mental health varies greatly across the nation. Interestingly, Scotland comes out as the most confident when it comes to talking about mental health in the workplace. Edinburgh, in particular, sits leagues above all other cities in the UK, with 32% of people feeling confident talking about mental health issues at work.

It’s somewhat unsurprising that people who work in HR are the most likely to be confident in talking about their mental health (36%). 

On the other end of the scale, workers in Leeds (8%) are four times less likely to feel confident talking to colleagues than their counterparts in Edinburgh, followed closely by workers in Sheffield.

In London, fewer than one in five (19%) workers feel confident they can talk to colleagues, however, this number does rise to over a quarter (26%) in the Greater London region. The increase in the Greater London region and the figures from cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow are well below half and signal that far more needs to be done to increase confidence in talking about mental health and wellbeing. 

Concerningly, it isn’t just a lack of confidence the survey uncovered, more than 1 in 10 people in the UK say they would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to their colleagues, with those in Cardiff most likely to feel this way (18%). These stats show that not only is work needed to improve confidence but also the stigma of talking about mental health.

It’s somewhat unsurprising that people who work in HR are the most likely to be confident in talking about their mental health (36%).

However, interestingly, HR workers are also the most likely to feel ashamed or embarrassed talking to colleagues about their mental health (32%); suggesting that while they might be the ‘go to’ support for other employees, they might not have the same level of support that they feel they can talk to. 

The arts and culture industry was found to have the second highest proportion of people who feel confident talking about mental health (33%), closely followed by workers in the IT and telecoms professions (31%).

The numbers coming out of the HR, arts and culture, and IT and telecoms industries show that there is some confidence in talking to colleagues, however, like the city and regional statistics, none meet or surpass the 50% mark; indicating that industries need to do far more to support their workers

The least confident workers to talk about their mental health are those in sales, media and marketing professions, where just 8% said they felt confident talking to colleagues and almost one in four (24%) would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to their colleagues.

In comparison, just 11% of those in the legal profession would feel embarrassed or ashamed of talking to colleagues, yet, over 25% (26.3%) feel that they would still be nervous talking to colleagues about how they feel.

No matter what your role or which industry you work in, everyone deserves the support they need when dealing with mental health issues. From an open chat over a coffee to a mental health awareness day at work, there are so many ways employers can improve company culture with regards to mental health support.


About the author

Sean Walsh is marketing manager of Protectivity Insurance.


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