Mental health prejudice still exists in UK businesses

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A new report issued by Bupa states that in excess of 90% of UK business leaders agree that their companies still experience mental health prejudice.

A survey produced by the health insurer indicated that 94% of business leaders admitted that mental health prejudice still posed a problem for their business, with around 20% of mentally ill employees feeling that they are under pressure to resign.

Overall, 47% of the business leaders said they took care around employees with a mental health condition, labelling them as weak, erratic and unpredictable. Around 22% of the leaders said they avoided all forms of contact with these employees.

This has resulted in 70% of employees feeling that they are unable to discuss mental health concerns and issues with the employers. About 51% believe that a mental health condition would prevent them from being promoted.

The Shaw Trust is a charity which aids disadvantaged and disabled people in finding sustainable employment, said that these findings are of serious concern and mental illness should become a public health priority.

A spokesman for the trust said during their own research done during 2010, they found that despite increased awareness, there were still 72% of workplaces with no formal mental health policy in place. The trust stated that mental health should be public health priority and employees should be provided with more support to manage their condition to allow them to continue working.

Mind, the mental health charity, has also voiced its concerns.

The head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, Emma Mamo, said it is clear that senior business leaders still have damaging and outdated views about the effect of a mental health problem on a person’s ability to do their job.

The Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA) said that during 2014 it received about 300 calls regarding mental health issues, and believed that in the accountancy profession there is a growing understanding towards people suffering mental illness.

A spokesperson for CABA said that there are generally two objectives when they are approached for help with mental health problems. The first is to find effective support, which they are able to provide, and the second is to remain in their job and for the problem not to affect their careers.

CABA is aware that most accountants prefer to deal with this type of problem in confidence and for their employer to be unaware of it and the association respects that.

CABA stated that this is indicative of the level of sympathy employees expect from their employers.

Image Credit: David Wall

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