Mental health in the workplace

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A Retrospective Look at Mental Health in the Workplace

Jessica Tabinor mental health in the workplace

Mental health in the workplace

Mental health is now a permanent part of the workplace, with figures from the Department of Health stating that one in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives.

Culturally acceptable behaviours throughout history have had a major impact on mental wellness within different generations. Seeking help was shrouded in stigma and viewed as a sign of weakness during times when societal attitudes were less accepting and supportive towards mental illness. Instead, bottling up your emotions was the norm, and as a result, previous generations were unaware of many common disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

These same fears around admitting personal struggles with mental health to your own friends and family meant awareness in the workplace was virtually unheard of. Thankfully this culture of silence has changed considerably, shaking off societal norms to instil a greater awareness, understanding and acceptance of mental health issues. 

According to Ipsos Mori, in research commissioned by NHS Providers, NHS Clinical Commissioners, the Royal College of Physicians and National Voices, mental health is now second to only cancer as the top health concern amongst the general public.

THE SURVEY

We surveyed of more than 1,400 Morson International contractors working in roles spanning professional services, construction, IT, engineering, digital and rail. Respondents represented a range of ages, yet the majority were aged 41+ and 80% were male. 

  • Almost half (46%) of those living with a mental health condition hide it from their colleagues and employer 
  • More than a third (36%) feared their employer’s reaction or the repercussions of speaking about their struggles with mental illness. 
  • 59% didn’t feel comfortable telling their employer and 42% cited the stigma around mental health as the main reason why they kept quiet 
  • Almost 1 in 10 (9%) have considered taking their own life because of their mental health struggles More than 1 in 5 (21%) have experienced mental illness 
  • 15% have taken time off work due to mental health reasons. Of these, 28% were off work for more than a month 
  • 42% did not tell their employer they were off work because of their mental health 
  • 62% are seeking treatment for a mental health condition or have sought treatment in the past 
  • 55% of workplaces offered no mental health support, either from a complete lack of initiatives or the employee being unaware of anything currently in place 

The survey painted a stark picture of the current state of mental health in the workplace. Whilst significant progress is being made to increase mental well-being conversations in the public domain, many workplaces are yet to follow suit.


"Stigma is still a major issue that employees suffering from ill mental health must overcome, with 46% of those with mental health problems saying they hide it from their employer."

The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work and poor mental health due to internal or external factors can impact productivity, career progression and wider health. Mental health is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the workplace, with millions of work days lost each year because of mental illness at a cost of £billions to UK employers. 

Operations Director at Morson International, Adrian Adair said:

“These results are shocking and unacceptable. There’s still a major disconnect between mental health awareness and openness at work, which means people are uncomfortable discussing the subject due to fear of what their employer may think or the risk of them losing their job. Too many people suffer in silence, which can often result in people having time off work. Four of the respondents said they were off work for more than a year as a result of their mental illness, which will have had a significant impact on their employer in lost productivity.”


Morson has released a mental health whitepaper which includes more insights from our contractor survey supported by powerful personal stories of our own employees and ex-Morson sponsored boxer Ricky Hatton. To download, visit www.morson.com/tackling-mental-health