Stress and depression 'no reason to take time off'

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Employers are failing to take staff mental health issues seriously enough, with more than half claiming that anxiety, stress and depression are not good enough reasons to take time off work.
 
According to a survey of 1,822 UK employers undertaken by online therapy and coaching marketplace Mentaline.com, a huge 64% did not consider anxiety as sufficient grounds for taking leave, 59% felt the same about stress, while 52% were equally dismissive about depression.
 
Jesper Buch, the service's founder, said: "Mental illness should always be taken seriously and it was quite shocking to see that so many employers seem to disregard issues such as depression and stress. Many of these issues can actually stem from working environments so it's important that employers acknowledge the problems and fully understand them."
 
To make matters worse, however, just over one in five respondents also indicated that they would be less inclined to hire someone with a history of mental illness, while 68% said they would be more sympathetic to staff suffering from physical rather than mental problems. Just less than two in five suggested that they would struggle to take mental illness seriously.
 
But Buch warned that favouring job candidates with no history of mental illness amounted to discrimination and was against the law in most instances. "Unfortunately, mental health is still a very taboo subject in many people's eyes but that needs to stop. Education and raised awareness of the issues surrounding mental health is the only way to do so effectively," he said.

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By Amy
13th Jan 2011 14:00

It's amazing in 2011 that there is still so much ignorance around mental health, the figures you've highlighted are just ridiculous, aren't they?  Creating and maintaining a healthy workplace is something that everyone needs to be aware of, we all have a responsibility to ourselves and others and it's something I'm passionate about.  When will it become compulsory for managers to undergo training in mental health awareness, for example the Mental Health First Aid course? This could seriously shift some mind-sets.   And when will people realise that diversity is the key to a successful business?  Employers could be embracing differences and realising the benefits that they bring to the team and the business as a whole.

 

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13th Jan 2011 15:14

I love the idea of having compulsory Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace, what a wonderful thing! It would certainly help to dispell the myths about it all, and would help employees to deal with the insecurities they may feel about being honest about what they are going through.

I don't know why people are still so in the dark about such things.

It might be encouraging to learn that our managers here at Sift are very understanding and compassionate people, and most, if not all, employees here would feel comfortable talking to their line manager about emotional problems.  For example, just a few months after I started here I had to put my cat down. My line manager allowed me to take the day off after finding me crying. A hugely silly thing to some people, and by no means as serious as any type of mental health issue, but massively important to me at the time, and the fact that he recognised this created the beginning of a great and respectful working relationship between us.

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By yoda
16th Jan 2011 00:08

With all of the empirical data on record regarding the impact of stress and depression upon today's workforce -- this survey shows that a stigma still exists for employees in need of a "mental health" day off.  As a HR manager in the work life balance arena -- this is very scary to me.  I'm also a raja yoga teacher w/a MAPP.  Here I've been thinking that things were getting better and now this.  What will it take to change the stigma.  I was a part of a team meeting encouraging people to use the employee assistance program -- all but myself said, "Emphatically No!"  We talked about the benefits and the answer was still, "NO!"  This article is not good news.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my opinion.  Peace.

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18th Jan 2011 12:23

-- Amanda K Smith Clinical Director Amian EAP

With 1 in 4 of us likely to experience some form of mental health problem at any one time, employers need to consider the 1 in 4 of their staff who may be absent, or in work today but experiencing difficulty. By encouraging staff to seek support form managers, colleagues and workplace support such as EAP's, employers can minimise the impact of mental health problems and maximise staff support.

As the previous comment says, managers who empathise with staff when they experience difficulty encourage positive working relationships and increased employee loyalty. Employers providing staff with access to employee assistance programmes are likely to see decreased sickness absence and staff who feel supported and valued by the organisation.

With the abolishing of PCT's, cutbacks in funding for GP's and the NHS, employers supporting staff with mental health or any type of problem, work or home related will reap the rewards from via staff health and wellbeing and the positive effect upon the business.

 

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