Index report findings: We’re less comfortable talking about mental health

Employees are less likely to disclose their mental health concerns to their organisation than they were this time last year, according to research published by Mind in their Workplace Wellbeing Index 2021/22 report.

MindThe survey of 41,927 employees from 119 organisations found a 6% decrease in employees disclosing mental health problems to their employers, as well as a 3.1% drop in those who felt comfortable doing so compared to last year.

When respondents were asked why they haven’t brought up their mental health with their workplace, over half (53%) said they didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, and 42% were worried about being treated as though they were more vulnerable than their colleagues.

Sadly, almost a third (31%) said they thought their employer couldn’t help them, and 29% were concerned their career progression would be hindered.

A woman working in a bar takes a moment to rest.

Overall, there was a 4.5% increase in employees describing their mental health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, and 2.9% fewer respondents reporting that they had experienced a mental health problem while working for their current employer compared to the previous year.

However, when looking at LGBTQIA+ respondents, the results were less positive. This group reported lower levels of overall mental health and a decreased likelihood of taking time off for mental or physical health problems when compared with other groups.

“It is important to recognise that stigma remains a key challenge and is likely to be a growing one in the midst of recession,” Andrew Berrie, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, explains. “With LGBTQ+ employees showing poorer levels of wellbeing across various areas of the Index, more consideration of these groups and a better understanding of their needs is essential.

He adds that with the effects of recession on the horizon and the present cost of living crisis, there is a danger that workplace wellbeing may fall out of focus. The Index shows some organisations might be experiencing “wellness fatigue”, with less employees aware of the tools and support available to them, and mental health falling off of strategic agendas.

Tensions flare in a workplace meeting.

For example, there was a reduction in the number of respondents who thought their senior management are completely, or very, supportive of the mental health agenda at their organisation compared with last year. Less people were aware of their employer running initiatives to raise awareness of mental health.

“Going forward, supportive and well informed line management will be crucial in tackling these challenges,” says Andrew. “Line managers need the right training and knowledge to act as a trusted source of support and restore their capacity to promote mental health for those they manage, with support from senior leadership.”

If you’re looking to improve your workplace culture around mental health, we’ve collected some of our top resources to help you. You might want to start small, by putting up posters to help get people talking. Or, you might decide it’s time for some big steps, like having Mind’s Index team work with you to identify what you’re doing right, and where you can improve.

Wherever you’re at, check out these tools which you might find useful.

Resources in this toolkit: