Rebekah Valero-Lee mental health in the workplace
We recently surveyed our contractor workforce and found that almost half (46%) of employees living with a mental health condition do not inform their employer, with more than a third (39%) saying that they feared their reaction and the repercussions.
Other reasons cited included not being comfortable telling the individual (59%), the stigma around mental health (42%) and the lack of support in the workplace (22%); with 55% saying they were either unaware of any support available or that their workplace lacked in any assistance for mental illness.
The same survey of 1,400 respondents, which comprised 80% males aged 41+ working within sectors such as construction, professional services, IT, digital, engineering and rail, revealed that 1 in 5 (21%) had experienced a mental health problem and of those, 62% were either seeking treatment or had sought treatment in the past.
Almost 1 in 10 (9%) of all respondents had also at some point considered taking their own life, revealing that their mental health issue had left them feeling suicidal.
Adrian Adair, operations director at Morson International, 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 still uncomfortable discussing the subject due to fear of what their employer may think or the risk of them losing their job altogether.
“Too many people are suffering 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.
“Safety is paramount in many of the sectors that these respondents operate in and whilst their employers take great strides in protecting their people from physical harm, the same effort is needed to address mental ill health. We need to stamp out the taboos by developing open and honest cultures that are supplemented with better support and training to help sport the early signs of mental ill health. Male dominated sectors are less comfortable discussing mental health, which is why it is crucial that we create environments where anyone can voice their concerns without fear.”
We have taken practical steps to tackle these issues, training a handful of staff across the business in becoming ‘mental health first aiders’, who now possess the practical skills to spot the signs of mental illness within our workforce, including our contractors and the confidence to intervene and support those in need. Our objective is to bolster our mental health first aiders over the coming months to have multiple trained operatives located across each of its key regions.
“We’ve prioritised mental ill health within our own business and developed meaningful and impactful mental, emotional and physical wellbeing programmes to support our staff and help them to thrive; and we hope other employers take inspiration from what we’ve done to spark their own initiatives.”