Nearly half of employees experience mental health conditions but choose not to tell their employer according to a Friends Life survey.
Two thousand participants from across a variety of industries were surveyed, with 40% stating that they had experienced conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. However they chose not to disclose the information due to concerns that it might impact upon their career prospects.
An “excessive workload” was the most common cause of stress, followed by “frustration with poor management and working hours” and notably, it was younger workers who are feeling the strain more than the older generation. Nearly two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds said that they had been stressed, anxious or depressed within the last year, with the rate of incident decreasing gradually among older age groups.
Employees worrying about the impact of telling an employer about their mental health is understandable but it is important to know that a person may have legal protection if they are suffering mental health conditions at their workplace.
Under the Equality Act 2010 a mental illness can be classified as a disability if a person has a physical or mental impairment, and if the impairment has a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Conditions are deemed to be long term if they last for 12 months or longer.
In the event of a disability, employers are required to take reasonable action in order to support their work force. For example, changing shift patterns, working hours or adjusting other factors such as long distance travelling and computer usage can be implemented in order to support employees experiencing problems. If an employer is unreasonable or dismisses a person on the grounds of disability, then they could leave themselves open to a disability discrimination claim or unfair dismissal.
It is important that workers tell their employer if they are experiencing a mental health problem, as it will enable the opportunity for support and adjustments to be provided. In the long run this will increase productivity and lead to a happier, healthier workforce.