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Mental health issues in employment rising

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More than four in ten (42%) have experienced a problem in the past 12 months

The number of people saying that they have experienced mental health issues while in employment has climbed from a quarter (26%) to a third (31%) since 2011, according to research from the CIPD.

Despite the increase, the number of respondents who say their organisation supports employees with mental health issues either ‘very’ or ‘fairly well’ remains less than half (46%). Just four in ten employees (44%) would currently feel confident disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health problems to their current employer or manager, a similar proportion as reported five years ago (41%).

Of those who've experienced poor mental health at work, for more than four in ten (42%) this has been in the past 12 months.

Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said businesses should be doing more to help employees who may be suffering from mental health issues. “With people’s experiences of mental health problems at work on the increase, it’s disappointing not to see more employers stepping up to address them,” she said.

“Mental health should get just as much attention, awareness and understanding as physical health, and employers have a responsibility to manage stress and mental health at work, making sure employees are aware of, and able to access, the support available to them.”

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing, at mental health charity Mind, said that employer support was “vital.” "It’s clear that there’s a high prevalence of mental health problems among employees,” she said. “It’s good to see more people feeling comfortable enough to let their workplace know when they’re struggling with their mental health, which is likely to be an indication that employers are fostering an open culture where staff feel able to disclose their problems."

She added: “However, it’s vital that employers also have good support in place for all staff, including those experiencing unmanageable stress or poor mental health. Employees need to be reassured that if they do put their hands up, they’ll be met with understanding, and additional support if necessary.”