Nine in 10 workers in the UK have been touched by mental health challenges, a poll shows.
Two-thirds (66%) of the more than 2,000 workers polled reported having personally experienced mental health challenges, while 85% said someone close to them had experienced them.
The survey from Accenture suggests mental health issues are far more prevalent than the one in four figure that is often cited.
For three out of four people (76%), mental health challenges — either their own or those of others — had affected their ability to enjoy life, with 30% reporting they are “occasionally, rarely, or never” able to enjoy and take part fully in everyday life.
Although 82% of respondents said they are more willing to speak openly about mental health issues now than they were a few years ago, only 27% said they had seen any positive change in employees speaking openly about mental health in their organisations.
Just one in five reported an improvement in workplace training to help manage their own mental health (20%) or to help them support colleagues dealing with mental health challenges (19%).
Barbara Harvey, a managing director at Accenture and mental health lead for the company’s business in the UK, said the findings show mental health is not a minority issue but touches almost all employees and can affect their ability to perform at work and live life to the fullest.
“It’s time for employers to think differently about how they support their employees’ mental wellbeing,” she argued.
She said employers need to take a proactive approach by “creating an open, supportive work environment that enables all their people to look after their mental health and support their colleagues”.
Of those who had faced a mental health challenge, 61% had not spoken to anyone at work about their issue. Half felt that raising a concern about their mental health might negatively affect their career or prevent them from being promoted, and 53% believed that opening up about a mental health challenge at work would be perceived as a sign of weakness.
However, hiding mental health challenges at work had a negative impact for 57% of workers, such as feeling stressed, more alone, lacking confidence, being less productive, or simply feeling worse.
Among those who had talked to someone about mental health at work, 81% experienced a positive reaction of empathy or kindness.