Scots workers fear mental health discrimination

Woman mental health

Almost half of those questioned fear a problem could put their job at risk

10th October 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Almost half of Scots fear revealing a mental health problem at work would jeopardise their career.

A new survey of 2,000 workers commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation for World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October) has revealed that 40% of Scottish workers wouldn't talk openly about a mental health problem for fear it would affect their job prospects or job security.

The study also polled 1,000 managers and found that almost a quarter said there is no established protocol or procedure to follow if staff have concerns about their mental health.

In response to the findings, the foundation has published a guide for employers, including a check-list, on how to transform workplaces into mentally friendly environments. It will also highlight that Scotland's new mental health strategy commits the Scottish Government to working with employers to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.

It is estimated that mental ill health costs Scottish employers over £2 billion each year.

The survey also found that 42% of people said they would be likely to make up an excuse such as stomach ache or back problems for absence if they needed to take time off work for mental health reasons and around one in five workers (19%) said they have seen the label of mental health misused against co-workers.

Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: "These are shocking statistics that show too many workplaces are still not safe environments for people to talk openly about a mental health problem. It speaks volumes about attitudes towards mental health if people would rather lie and tell their boss they have a back problem instead.

"We are asking people to talk about mental health, but this must be matched with an ability from managers and work colleagues to listen compassionately and act appropriately. Too often line managers simply don't know what to do or what support is available for someone with a mental health problem – that's why more support is needed.”

Calum Irving, director of See Me, Scotland's programme to end mental health discrimination, said: "Stigma in workplaces is a major issue and these figures show people do not feel safe or supported to speak about how they are feeling.

“We all have mental health and it impacts on every aspect of our lives, including where we work, but often if people are struggling with their mental health they aren't taken seriously and can face discrimination.”