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Two in five workers experience poor mental health

Many have faced disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal

Two in five (39%) UK workers have experienced symptoms of poor mental health related to work in the last year, a report shows.

Of those, a third (33%) said this was caused by negative work relationships and a quarter (24%) cited bullying and harassment from their manager, according to the survey released by Business in the Community (BITC) in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits.

The survey also revealed a significant disconnect between company board members’ perceptions of how mental health is treated within their companies and what the rest of the organisation thinks.

More than half (51%) of those at a CEO or board level believed that their organisation effectively supports its staff, compared with 38% of those without line management responsibilities.

There are also barriers to managers providing effective support, with more than six in 10 (62%) managers saying they have had to put the interest of their organisation above staff wellbeing.

Only 7% of all employees have received training to recognise workplace stress factors and one in three (33%) with mental health problems said that they felt ignored.

Around one in 10 (9%) were subject to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal following the disclosure of mental health issues.

Louise Aston, wellbeing campaign director at Business in the Community, said too many employers are tinkering at the edges of change rather than making the fundamental differences that are really needed to improve their employees’ mental health.

“A profound cultural shift is paramount so that work itself doesn’t cause poor mental health but instead should enhance it,” she argued.

Tony Wood, partner and UK leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits, added: “By encouraging empathy and an inclusive workplace culture, built on a foundation of psychological safety, companies can ensure lasting change in how we deal with mental health problems.”