A webinar, hosted by Personnel Today in association with BHSF, has highlighted reasons why some employees with mental health issues don’t seek help.

40% of absenteeism cases in the UK occur as a result of an employee having a mental health problem. According to Mental Health at Work, only around a tenth of employees in the UK with a mental health issue feel confident in talking about their condition.

Dr Philip McCrea, chief medical officer at BHSF, participated in the webinar and spoke about how there is still a stigma around mental health.

“At any given point during the year, over half of UK employees will experience a mental health issue.

“I’ve carried out over 110,000 consultations and around half have been to do with mental health. Time after time I’ve spoken to employees who don’t accept they are ill. Denial is a big issue and there is still a reluctance to talk about things.

“Prevention and intervention strategies should change the ways we look at mental health. Employers should be developing and upskilling managers in their abilities to detect and intervene. It is worrying that less than a quarter of managers are trained in mental health to spot early signs.”

Dr McCrea also adds that employers who are taking proactive steps to raise awareness of mental health could end up recruiting more employees to work for them.

“Employers that have robust and active mental health programmes, are increasingly becoming the organisation of choice to go to because employees feel they will be supported, looked after and developed.

Mark Smith, principal welfare rights adviser at Auriga Services, believes it’s integral employers create a supportive environment.

“If organisations can create a clear mantra that confidentiality will apply to any conversations or support, more employees may feel confident in coming forward and talking about their issues.

“I would encourage employers to be flexible in allowing employees access to appropriate support. Employers should create support mechanisms that meet an employees’ individual needs to help alleviate concerns. Some changes could be; introducing off-site meetings or getting external health support. Help is out there.”

Naomi Saragoussi, partner at Employee Benefits Collective, feels employers should make mental health acceptable to talk about.

“It’s easy for me to say but companies need to break down the stigma around mental wellbeing. By raising the profile of mental wellbeing and making it something natural to talk about is a start.

“Line managers play a critical role in helping to foster a culture where employees feel able to talk openly about mental health and to receive support when they need it.”

With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Saragoussi suggests ways in which employers can keep in touch with their employees who are working from home.

“Line managers should be communicating with their colleagues daily and team meetings should take place. Whether that be on the phone or through video conferencing.

“It could also be an idea to introduce virtual coffees and lunches, where employees can talk about what is happening in their world.”

The webinar is now available on-demand to listen to.


If you, or know of someone who has a mental health issue, we’re here to help. Call us today on 0800 622 552.