Three-quarters of UK employees who have experienced a mental health condition say stigma in the workplace has reduced over the past year, but many still feel unable to discuss mental health with their boss.
The survey from Aviva found only 9% of employees who have had a mental health condition sought help from their line manager.
Meanwhile, 12% would discuss their mental health with a work colleague and just 4% would talk to HR.
Employees said they would typically speak to their family (41%) and friends (38%) if they had a mental health condition.
The research suggests that when conversations do take place, there is a disconnect in line managers’ perceptions of how well they are supporting their colleagues versus what employees say they experience.
Over three-quarters (77%) of employers said they are “good at identifying when team members are under pressure”, yet only 37% of employees agreed with this statement.
Employees, on the other hand, are increasingly becoming mindful of their colleagues’ mental health.
Over half (55%) of employees said they worked with someone who experienced a mental health condition and 76% said they were concerned about their colleagues and did their best to help.
Just 5% were sceptical whether their colleague actually had an issue.
Dr Subashini M, associate medical director, UK health and protection at Aviva, said a conversation about mental health doesn’t always mean supporting a colleague through depression and anxiety.
“Everyone can experience triggers and symptoms that impact their mental health,” he explained. “The disconnect is apparent when tasks asked of employees do not change nor does the workplace culture, despite the acknowledgement of wanting to support mental health in the workplace.”
Dr Si Thu Win, consultant psychiatrist at Runnymede and Spelthorne Community Mental Health Recovery Service, added: “A cultural shift has already begun with prominent celebrities and public figures, at least in the UK, shining a light on mental health. I think the ‘stiff upper lip’ is turning into a smile as more people are becoming more open and able to talk about their mental health.”