One in three now comfortable talking about mental health at work

Claims for mental health treatment through work is up 53 per cent over 10 years, with stress and anxiety diagnoses doubled since last year.

Bupa, the health and wellbeing provider, has released figures to reveal the health of the UK’s workplace wellbeing. The research coincides with the launch of the Bupa Wellbeing Edit – a report which explores key themes in workplace wellbeing with insights from business and wellbeing experts.

The data shows the number of people receiving mental health treatments1 has increased by 53 per cent in the last decade, with stress and anxiety being the key driver. Treatment for stress and anxiety have more than doubled over the last ten years, which now stand at just under 70,000. In fact, 44 per cent of workers say the world around them has become more stressful and complex over the last ten years and while people are working an extra 15.4 million hours every week productivity remains low.

While working longer hours is a contributor, analysis based on businesses of all sizes highlights employers’ openness towards mental health is also increasing self reporting.

More than one in three (35 per cent) workers from Bupa’s research feel more comfortable talking to their line manager about their mental health than they would have done in the past, and (36 per cent) say workplace attitudes towards mental illness have improved. In addition, 30 per cent say that mental health conditions are far less of a taboo now than ten years ago, suggesting a positive culture change.

Patrick Watt, corporate director for Bupa UK, says, ‘The data and research illustrates the progress businesses have made, whilst highlighting that we still have more to do. In recent years many high profile business leaders have openly discussed their mental health challenges which has helped reframe how we talk about mental health in the workplace and create a more open culture. At the same time, UK businesses now recognise that to be able to increase engagement it is just as important to ensure that their people are mentally, as well as physically fit.

‘The diversity of the modern workforce means there is no silver bullet. The Wellbeing Edit aims to encourage businesses to ensure holistic wellbeing remains a boardroom by creating a workplace culture that drives a healthy workforce and a healthy business.’

It is clear that employers are investing in education and training, with around half (47 per cent) of line managers saying that they have received formal training on how to manage team members’ mental health issues. There is more to be done with 27 per cent saying that they worry that discussing mental health issues in the workplace as it may affect their career prospects and almost a third are unsure whether their employer has any provision for health and wellbeing.

The Bupa Wellbeing Edit provides examples of workplace wellbeing best practice from a wide range of industries which aim to help businesses throughout the UK evolve their strategies and further engage their people.

Patrick Watt continues, ‘In our experience, and as demonstrated in the Wellbeing Edit, the wellbeing strategies that succeed are designed to meet the needs of their employees rather than generic goals. Businesses that adopt a tailored approach are more likely to engage their people using technology to achieve this impact. The first step to creating a long-term wellbeing strategy starts with understanding what is important to employees to unlock the potential in all of their people and redresses the gap in engagement.’

Further reading on mental health

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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